Mark Collins was born on June 16, 1965, in Lynn, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve on September 1, 1983, and went on active duty beginning May 10, 1984. Amn Collins completed basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, in July 1984, and then attended Communications System Operator training and E-3 Sentry AWACs crew training. He served at with the 964th Airborne Warning and Control Squadron at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, before transferring to the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, in 1993. TSgt Collins was killed in the crash of an E-3B Sentry (Call Sign "Yukla 27") shortly after takeoff from Elmendorf AFB on September 22, 1995. He was buried at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Cemetery in Norman, Oklahoma. Sgt Collins was awarded the Sgt. John L. Levitow Award from the Air Force Logistics Command NCO Leadership School at Tinker AFB.
His Meritorious Service Medal Citation reads:
Members of Flight Yukla 27 distinguished themselves in the performance of outstanding service to the United States and Canada while serving as E-3 Airborne Warning and Air Control Systems air crew members assigned to 3rd Wing, 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron and the 381st Air Intelligence Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. They consistantly demonstrated outstanding airmanship while providing long range airborne surveillance, detection, identification, and command and control during deployed operations and in the Alaska region. All were dedicated volunteers selflessly serving, and fully committed to the defense of their nations and the Alaska region. Our memory of these airmen will forever be of professionals who stepped to the front and answered the call to duty and made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace and freedom. The distinctive accomplishments of each of these individuals reflect credit upon themselves, the United States Air Force, and Canadian Forces.