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Dr. Melvin J. Collins

Downers Grove, Ill.

Dr. Melvin J. Collins, 95, of Downers Grove, Ill. A master wordsmith, storyteller and toastmaster extraordinaire. Loving father of Jodi Sullivan and Jan (Mary Ellen Gilbert ) Collins. Preceded in death by five brothers and four sisters. Enlisted in the U.S. Navy, April 2, 1943. Discharged in November 1945. In WWII, served as rescue swimmer for USS FRANKS DD554. Saved 22 pilots' lives. Awarded Bronze Star and Navy & Marine Corps Medal of Honor (of which John F. Kennedy also was a recipient). Involved in Admiral Halsey's terrifying typhoon, winds over 125 miles per hour, capsized and sank three destroyers, where 790 sailors lost their lives and 146 planes were lost as well.
WWII pilot rescue efforts — "A Sailors Diary" by Brian Murphy was published in the December 2006 issue of American Legion Magazine. American Flag Signing. Mr. Robert Stanley. Additional signatories included President George Bush, Astronaut John Glenn, Walter Cronkite, Larry (Yogi) Berra, Johnny Lujack, Tony Curtis and Sen. Bob Dole (2006). Second WWII pilot rescue story — "First American Seal" by Brian Murphy was published by "Villa Park Review" on June 10, 2015, and later by "Legiontown, USA" on Aug. 19, 2015. Name and brick placed with honor on Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., and in the Hallway leading to the Admiral Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War located in Fredericksburg, Texas. Honored for inclusion into the Pritzker Military Museum & Library on July 31, 2018. Material being forwarded to CNN for possible acceptance in Year 2019. An exceptional athlete (lettered 16 times in college ), amateur boxer and coach, and college administrator (Coe College, Drake University, National University and Health Sciences, awarded honorary doctorate degree, and American Chiropractic Association. Started high school anatomy visitation program in 1987, with five busloads of 60 students. Retired from this duty after his stroke in 2000. Attendance for parting last two years was 249 Busloads and more than 10,000 guests per year.
A Celebration of Life was held Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, at Toon Funeral Home 4920 Main St., Downers Grove, IL 60515.
"There is no better exercise for strengthening the heart then reaching down and lifting people up."
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