Collins Haines was born in 1932 in Riverton, New Jersey. He entered the U.S. Navy on August 26, 1954, and was stationed at U.S. Naval Training Center Bainbridge, Maryland, until beginning Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, in February 1955. Haines graduated from OCS and was commissioned an Ensign in the Navy on May 6, 1955, and then attended Navy Supply Corps School at NAS Glynco, Georgia, from June to December 1955. His first assignment was as disbursing officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Randolph (CVA-15), from January to September 1956, followed by service as supply officer aboard the destroyer USS Davis (DD-937) from October 1956 to November 1957. LT Haines began flight training in December 1957, and was designated a Naval Aviator on May 1, 1959. He served as an S-2 Tracker pilot with VS-37 at NAS North Island, California, from June 1959 to October 1961, and then with VS-35 at NAS North Island from November 1961 to June 1962. LT Haines served on the staff of CVSG-57 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CVS-12) from July to December 1962, and then with VT-21 at NAS Kingsville, Texas, from January 1963 to December 1965. LCDR Haines then served with VFP-63, flying the RF-8G Crusader, from January 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on June 5, 1967. After spending 2,100 days in captivity, CDR Haines was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, and then served on the staff of Fighter/Airborne Early Warning Wing Pacific at NAS Miramar, California, from October 1973 to June 1974. His next assignment was as commanding officer of VFP-63, at that time the F-8 Replacement Squadron, from July 1974 to August 1975, followed by service as Executive Officer aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Okinawa (LPH-3) from August 1975 to May 1977. Capt Haines served as commanding officer of the attack transport USS Paul Revere (LPA-248) from June 1977 to August 1978, followed by attending the Senior Officer Ship Maintenance and Repair Course at Idaho Falls, Idaho, from September 1978 to March 1979. He served as commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LPH-10) from April 1979 to May 1981, followed by service as commanding officer of the Fleet Coordinating Group with 7th Fleet from April 1981 to February 1984. His final assignment was as commander of Tactical Air Control Group One at Coronado, California, from March 1984 until his retirement from the Navy on September 11, 1986.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Commander Collins Henry Haines, United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam on 8 June 1967. Commander Haines' captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion, Commander Haines reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.