TOBYHANNA, Pa. -- Since he was 17 years old, Wayne Collins has devoted his life to the U.S. Army, including over 20 years in uniform.
Following his retirement from the active duty ranks in 2001, Collins wanted to continue supporting the nation’s warfighter as an Army Civilian, building on his decades of expertise in the medical maintenance field at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency.
At the end of August, after over 41 years of combined military and federal service, he will call it a career.
“I’ve done my job,” said Collins, director of USAMMA’s Medical Maintenance Operations Division at Tobyhanna, or MMOD-Tobyhanna. “It’s time to move on and bring in other people with new ideas, the drive to make change and for them to ‘Be All They Can Be.’”
Colleagues of Collins, who has served in his current role for the past 18 years, said his experience, leadership and mentorship for the workforce will be missed, but his legacy will leave a lasting impact.
“Wayne has definitely left his mark at Tobyhanna,” said Bill Wall, chief of operations at MMOD-Tobyhanna. “We would not be where we are today without his leadership and his determination for us to be one of the premier medical maintenance support destinations for the last 20 years.”
MMOD-Tobyhanna, one of USAMMA’s three MMODs located across the U.S., serves as the technical center of excellence for clinical (field) lab equipment and provides sustainment-level medical equipment maintenance and technical support to operational units in 20 states.
Wall, who has served under Collins for the past 14 years, described Collins as a vital resource for institutional knowledge, adding that he always took time to educate and mentor team members using real-world examples to empower others to grow professionally.
“With his guidance and expertise in the medical maintenance field, he has prepared our team to take on any challenge presented to us and helped establish procedures that ensure that we’re providing quality products to the warfighter,” Wall said.
Collins enlisted in the Army in 1981, first discovering his passion for medical equipment repair. About eight years later, he was assigned to USAMMA and managed repair part kits at MMOD-Tobyhanna, a foreshadowing for his successful civilian career following his retirement as a master sergeant in 2001.
His last duty station was the 147th Medical Logistics Battalion at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he served as the noncommissioned officer in charge for the medical maintenance shop consisting of 40 Soldiers.
From there, he wasted no time, transitioning back to USAMMA as a contractor shortly after his military retirement. In July 2002, he was officially hired as an Army Civilian at MMOD-Tobyhanna, where he performed similar duties as he did in uniform and starting a 20-year run at the familiar facility.
In 2005, Collins earned a promotion to his current position, initially the supervisory electronics technician but later named director of MMOD-Tobyhanna.
Kevin Culihan, deputy director of USAMMA’s Medical Maintenance Management Directorate, has known Collins since the late 1990s, back when both were still in uniform.
He described Collins as a perfectionist at his craft and “always a stickler for everyone fulfilling their roles and responsibilities” to meet the mission at hand.
Culihan credited Collins as instrumental in the development of M3D’s Forward Repair Activity-Medical, or FRAM, teams, which travel to tactical units in the field to provide support for highly complex medical devices, such as chemistry and blood analyzers or other laboratory equipment.
“When Wayne retires, we will lose over 40 years of medical maintenance experience with specific emphasis on operation and management of medical maintenance depot operations,” Culihan said. “At the same time, Wayne has been very influential in mentoring his subordinates to grow and achieve senior-level positions.”
Looking back on his 40-plus years of service, Collins said he always enjoyed the sense of accomplishment he felt in being able to directly impact the lives of Soldiers and patients.
“In many cases, we could be the last ones to touch a piece of medical equipment before being used on a patient,” he said. “It must work, and it must work right.”
Collins also recognized his many coworkers and colleagues over the years, both military and civilian, as what he will miss the most as he enters retirement.
“They are a dedicated bunch who all work toward the same shared mission and vision -- taking care of the warfighter,” he said. “And I’ve made some very good friends that I can always count on.”