Women's Army Corps, Corporal Estelle S. Tidwell


Legionnaire Estelle Collins Turns 102

Zebulon, GA

On February 28, 2024, at the Brightmoor Nursing Home, the Department of Georgia, Pike County American Legion Post 197 based out of Zebulon, Georgia, initiated and co-hosted a birthday celebration for 102-year-old Legionnaire Estelle Collins. Estelle is a World War II and Korean War Women’s Army Corps Veteran. The birthday celebration included Post 197 and Squadron 197 honor guard team members, and American Legion Auxiliary representation, as well as Estelle Collins's daughter, Marcia Collins, cousin Glenn Giddings, caretaker Deb Toney and her daughter Mary Warner, friends Pat English, Jan Hariss Joyce Banister, Linda Holder, and Pat Reeves and Brightmoor staff and caregivers.
On January 18, 1945, Estelle Simone Tidwell signed up for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Private Tidwell completed her basic training at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. During World War II, Fort Oglethorpe served as an induction and processing center, and was a major training area for the Women’s Army Corps. Upon completion of basic training in February of 1945, she was promoted to Private First Class, assigned to the Fifth Service Command at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where she completed 12 weeks at the Army Services Forces Surgical Technician training at the Wakeman Hospital Center.
Around the end of May of 1945, she was assigned to the Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C. She worked in the surgical ward of the hospital. As a surgical technician, she administered medications, hypodermics, and took temperatures and pulse while caring for military patients. She cleaned and sterilized instruments and prepared swabs and bandages. She requisitioned supplies for individual wards. She maintained records and reports pertaining to the progress of patients. Many of her patients were seriously wounded military transferred from the various World War II theaters of operations. On August 24, 1945, Private First Class Tidwell was promoted to Technician 5th Grade.
Tech 5 Tidwell was assigned to the Oliver General Hospital in Augusta, Georgia. She worked in the hospital surgical ward. She separated from the service as a Technician 5th Grade on August 26, 1946, at the Separation Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, having served the U.S. Army for a total of 1 year, 7 months and 8 days.
From August of 1946 to November of 1950, Estelle trained and then worked as a beautician. It was during this time, while travelling on a bus, she met her future husband, Seaman Apprentice Robert Collins, who was in the U.S. Navy on leave traveling on the same bus sitting beside her. On July 6, 1950, the Korean War started.
Estelle Tidwell reenlisted in the Women’s Army Corps on November 6, 1950, at Fort McPherson, Georgia. She was assigned to the Fort McPherson General Hospital. Again, she worked in the hospital’s surgical ward. Around May 9, 1951, she then was assigned to the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Forces Recruiting Main Station and Induction Station located in Birmingham, Alabama, which was close to home. She was promoted to Corporal. On July 14, 1951, in LaGrange, Georgia, while both were on leave, Estelle married Robert Collins who was assigned to the USS Takelma which was operating from the San Diego Naval Station. After a few days together, Robert and the USS Takelma set sail for Pearl Harbor and further operations in the Pacific, and Estelle headed back to Birmingham.
On October 2, 1951, CPL Collins received a Letter of Commendation from the Recruiting Command for exemplary service, and on October 10, 1951, she separated from the Active Reserves having served honorably and faithfully for a total of 11 months and 4 days. Her total active military service is 2 years, 4 months and 12 days. On October 11, 1951, CPL Collins was reverted to the Enlisted Reserve Corps of the Alabama Military District attending monthly meetings at Fort McClelland, Alabama. On April 7, 1953, she was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army Enlisted Reserve status.
Sometime after getting out, Estelle joined The American Legion in Alabama. When she moved from Alabama to Georgia, her membership expired. In 2021, she renewed her membership, received a new membership number and was assigned to the Georgia Post 400. On March 12, 2022, Legionnaire Collins was transferred to Post 197, Pike County, Georgia.

Women's Army Corps (WAC) Veteran Patch

Photo provided by Myrna Dukes: From left to right – Sqdn 197 Jason Patten, Post 197 Stefan Huckaby, Unit 197 Melissa Patten, Post 197 Tim Dukes, Post 197 Estelle Collins, and Post 197 Bryan Richardson.

Right Photo provided by Bryan Richardson: Daughter Marcia Collins and Estelle Collins.
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