Gilbert Georgie Collier (1930–1953)
Gilbert Georgie Collier was born on December 30, 1930, in Hunter (Woodruff County), the son of George H. Collier, who was a disabled veteran, and Ollie Collier. He had four brothers and a sister. By 1940, the family had moved to La Grue Township in Arkansas County. He married sixteen-year-old Peggy Connelly of Gillett (Arkansas County) on May 27, 1950. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at Tichnor (Arkansas County), as did another future Korean War Medal of Honor recipient, Lloyd L. Burke.
Collier was serving as a corporal in Company F, 223rd Infantry Regiment, Fortieth Infantry Division, on July 19, 1953, when he set out as the point man of a six-man patrol from its position near Tutayon, Korea, on a rainy, moonless night. Advancing in the dark, Collier fell down a sixty-foot embankment, and when patrol commander Second Lieutenant Richard S. Agnew moved forward to investigate he also fell down the cliff. Collier injured his back in the fall, and Agnew’s ankle was injured too badly for him to walk on. Agnew ordered the rest of the patrol to return to base, but Collier refused, choosing to stay with the injured officer. The pair managed to pull themselves up the opposite side of the valley before dawn, intending to hide out until nightfall and then make their way back to their base.
The following night, the two injured soldiers had started the journey back toward their lines when they encountered a six-man patrol of Chinese soldiers. Collier opened fire and killed two of the enemy, though he himself was injured in the fight. After running out of ammunition, Collier crawled away from Agnew to draw off the four surviving Chinese soldiers, who closed in on him, kicking and beating him with rifle butts. Collier pulled his bayonet and stabbed two of the men to death; the others fled. “He was mortally wounded during this action, but made a valiant attempt to reach and assist his leader in a desperate attempt to save his comrade’s life without regard to his own safety,” his Medal of Honor citation states. A rescue patrol found Collier and Agnew and carried them to an aid station, but the young corporal was too badly wounded and died that night; his lieutenant survived.
Collier’s widow received his Medal of Honor at the Pentagon on January 12, 1955—the last to be awarded for actions in the Korean War. He was posthumously promoted to sergeant, and Observation Post Collier in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea is named in his honor. He is buried in DeWitt Cemetery.
For additional information:
Medal of Honor Recipients 1863–1978, Prepared for the Committee on Veterans Affairs United States Senate, February 14, 1979. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1979.
“Medal of Honor Veterans Recognized.” Grand Prairie Historical Society Bulletin 46, no. 1 (2003): 20–21.
“SGT Gilbert Georgie Collier.” Findagrave.com. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7179300 (accessed February 13, 2018).
Mark K. Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas
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