30 November 1957 – Capt Benny Lacombe is killed when he unsuccessfully attempts to bail out of Lockheed U-2A, 56-6704, Article 371, 13 miles SE of Laughlin AFB. Ejection seats had not yet been fitted to U-2s at this point. The history of the U-2 program is fraught with fatalities and crashes. “CIA pilots Wilburn S.
Peter Collins, Jr.
Peter Collins, Jr. “Pete” graduated from Georgetown University in 1969 then completed Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin AFB, Del Rio, TX in 1970. He then went to Luke AFB, AZ, and graduated in the last USAF F-100 training class. Following graduation, Pete’s entire class was sent to become Airborne Forward Air Controller Pilots (FACs) in Southeast Asia (SEA) as President Nixon was prepared to order a massive air campaign.
US Ground Combat units were largely withdrawn, and Pete was one of the primary airborne “King” Facs in the battle of An Loc during the massive second Tet Offensive in April-June, 1972. He flew 260 combat sorties, with 896.5 combat hours during a single tour in SEA, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross three times.
Afterward, Pete went immediately to the 166th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Ohio. While there he flew the F-100, getting 344 hours in the “Hun”. Collins considers his F-100 experience and his association with the 166 TFS among the high points of his life. Following his time in the F-100 came 15 years of piloting the A-7D.
He graduated from the USAF Fighter Weapons School in 1987, and became the Night Attack Manager for Air National Guard at the Air Guard Reserve Test Center from 1986-1990. During this commission, he was a primary force in the development of night vision goggles, integrated night helmets, and infrared equipment for low altitude night attack in single-seat fighters.
His flight time culminated in the F-16 at 162 Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) with a total of 3,500+ flying hours.
Although he won a number of awards and decorations for his service, Pete will tell you that the “best one was from the 21st Division, Vietnamese Army: it’s the top of a ration can, with a “ribbon” of sorts on top, and Sharpie marks, thanking me and three other guys for what we did at An Loc. Awarded at Lai Khe, sometime around July 1972.”
While at Rickenbacker, Pete Collins attended The Ohio State University of Law and later became a Judge Pro Tem for the Arizona court. He has been recognized for Insurance Law and Personal Injury Litigation in The Best Lawyers in America® since 2009 and was selected for inclusion on the Southwest Super Lawyers® list for Insurance Coverage. Peter was also recognized in Top Lawyers 2010, Corporate Counsel Magazine and is AV® Preeminent™ rated by Martindale Hubbell®, representing the highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards.
He is married to a great lady, Debbie. They live in Tucson, Arizona, and have two children and four grandchildren, also high points in his life. He has practiced law as a Prosecutor and civil litigator for 39 years and has been the Chair of the Arizona College of Trial Advocacy.