Howard Lyman Collins was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, on October 26, 1903, son of George A. and Ella O. (Howard) Collins, both now deceased. He was graduated from Chelsea, Massachusetts, High School, and entered the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on July 29, 1920, as a Midshipman from the Ninth District of Massachusetts. Graduate and commissioned Ensign on June 4, 1924, he subsequently advanced in rank of that Rear Admiral, to date from May 1, 1952.
Upon graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1924, he was assigned to the USS Utah, operating with Battleship Division Two, Scouting Fleet. In September 1925 he was transferred to the USS Overton, and served on board that destroyer, a unit of Division Fourteen, Scouting Fleet, until June 1929, with the time out, Newport to June 1927, for instruction at the Naval Torpedo School, Newport, Rhode Island. In July 1929 he reported to the USS Camden, for service until May 193, when he returned to Annapolis, for the General Line Course at the Naval Postgraduate School. Completing that course, and the course in Communications and Applied Communications, he was detached in May 1933.
A year on board the USS Mississippi, a unit of Battleship Division Three, Battle Force, was followed by duty from June 1934 until June 1936 as Radio Officer on the Staff of Commander Battleship Division One, Battle Force, USS Texas, flagship. For three years thereafter he had duty at the Postgraduate School, Annapolis, as an Instructor in International Relations. In June 1939 he assumed command of the USS Dorsey, flagship of Mobile Target Division One, Base Force, serving in that command until transferred in February 1941 to the USS Indianapolis for one month.
In March 1941 he joined the Staff of Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, as Assistant Operations Officer. He served later as Operations Officer, and for “exceptionally meritorious service… from March 10, 1941, to January 11, 1945…” he was awarded the Legion of Merit, with Combat “V.” The citation states that “During this vitally important period, (he) displayed the highest qualities of judgment and initiative, thereby contributing materially to the prosecution of the war against Japan…”
He returned to the United States in January 1945, and after fitting out duty assumed command in April 1945 of Destroyer Squadron Ten, consisting of twelve radar picket destroyers, in which he joined the fast carrier task forces operating in the Western Pacific. In January 1946, an organizational change placed his destroyers in Destroyer Squadron Three, where he continued to serve until ordered to the Navy Department, Washington, DC, for duty with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in February 1946.
From August 1946 until July 1949 he was a member of the Staff at the National War College, Washington, DC, and following duty from September 1949 to July 1950 s Commanding Officer of the USS Helena, he returned to the National War College for further Staff duty. In July 1951 he was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, as Liaison Officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Program and Budget Advisors, under the General Planning Group. He was promoted to flag rank and in February 1953 he became Commander Military Sea Transportation Service, Pacific Area, and Navy Control of Shipping Officer, with headquarters in San Francisco, California.
On November 25, 1955, he reported as Commanding Cruiser Division One, with additional duty from June 26, 1956, until August 2, 1956, as Commander Cruiser- Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet. In February 1957 he reported as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Logistics), where he continued to serve until relived of all active duty pending his retirement, effective November 1, 1958.
Following retirement, he accepted employment with the Bethlehem Steel Company, Shipbuilding Division, as Assistant to the Technical Manager in the Central Technical Department, which is the hull and machinery design and research and development activity for the eleven Bethlehem Shipyards. In January 1965 he joined the Retired Officers Association as Corporate Secretary.
In addition to the Legion of Merit with Combat “V,” Rear Admiral Collins has the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; the American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; the Navy Occupation Service Medal; the China Service Medal; and the national Defense Service Medal.