John Frederick Albert Collins

1924 - 2019


Their Story

John F. Collins was born in Dayton, Ohio, on January 9, 1924, to John H. and Clara Langhorst Collins. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of Illinois.[1] He was a proud Illini alumnus. John later graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a master’s degree in Engineering Management.

John was president of J. F. Collins Associates, a Human Resource Consulting Firm. He was a United States Army Veteran having served in WWII from 1943-1945. During his service John was held as a POW in Germany.[2] He married Marilynn Carey in November of 1950, in Illinois[3]. She preceded him in death on January 25, 2016. He was a member of the Flossmoor Community Church. John enjoyed the outdoors, taking daily walks, playing tennis, watching sports, and spending time with family and friends.

John. F. Collins Gravesite
John. F. Collins Gravesite

John was a Prisoner of War from Dec 21, 1944, until May 25, 1945, at Stalag 4B Muhlberg Sachsen 51-13. Stalag IV B was the largest POW camp on German soil during the Second World War and was opened in September 1939. From 1939 to 1944, captured soldiers from 33 nations passed through the camp. At the end of December 1944 about 7,500 Americans arrived from the Battle of the Bulge. Stalag IV B was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on 23 April 1945. The Soviet liberators then held the British and American prisoners in the camp for over a month.[4] 3,000 internees perished in the camp due to sickness and life circumstances. The people who died in Stalag IV B were buried in a cemetery in Neuburxdorf.[5]

From a written account by Rishel White, an American POW also held at Stalag 4B in 1945. “Being a prisoner of war is to know hunger.  I am talking about hunger from the lack of solid food for weeks and months.  It gnaws at your innards and strips the flesh from your bones.  It’s hunger that forces you to eat anything and everything available.  Black stale bread made from sawdust, watery soup infested with worms and made from frozen garbage, rotten potatoes, turnips and rutabagas.  Standing in line in freezing weather, pelted by sleet, feet numb and fingers nearly frozen.  You are sick and your body racks by uncontrollable shivering and your mind is a mask of pain.  Dysentery knots your stomach, adding to the misery.  There is also the terrible fear of catching one of the many diseases that run rampant throughout the camp and no medicine or strength to fight back.  The fear that you might never again be free, the anger and deep depression knowing your enemy counterparts imprisoned in the U.S.A. are well fed and clothed.  Thoughts of family and home lock your mind in bottomless depression; this is perhaps the cruelest torture of all.  You begin to wonder if death is very far away, but it never comes, it just teases you.”[6]

On June 5, 1945, it was reported by the provost marshal’s office of the European Theater that virtually all American prisoners of war, including those in the Russian-occupied area, had been recovered and that more than two-thirds had departed for the United States.[7] By June 27, the provost marshal’s office reported that all former American POWs except those still hospitalized had been returned to the U.S. There were 3,400 remaining in hospitals.[8]

John received the Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart during his service.[9] He died on Dec. 2, 2019 at Rosewood Care Center in Moline, IL, at the age of 95. He was buried at Rock Island National Cemetery with his wife, Marilynn.[10]


[1] John F Collins (1924-2019) – Find a Grave Memorial

[2] NARA – AAD – Display Full Records – World War II Prisoners of War Data File, 12/7/1941 – 11/19/1946 (

[3]Marilynn L. Carey Collins (1925-2016) – Find a Grave Memorial

[4] Stalag IVB Muhlberg (

[5] Prisoners of War Camp Mühlberg (Stalag IV B) – Mühlberg/Elbe –

[6] Rishel White, American POW at Stalag 4B in 1945 Technician 5th Class Rishel White (

[7]The Barre Daily Times (Barre, Vermont) · 5 Jun 1945, Tue · Page 1

[8] Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) · 27 Jun 1945, Wed · Page 1

[9] Veterans Legacy Memorial – John F. Collins

[10] U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current –