The Sky’s the Limit
When I used to think of discipline, it brought up feelings of dread, of punishment. I think most will agree those are also their first thoughts. If we look a little deeper into the definitions in Webster’s we find:
Discipline: self-command, self-control, self-discipline, self-government, self-mastery, self-restraint, willpower.Notice how many times ‘self’ is used? So discipline then is something that we can have control over, and self control, self discipline is a very good thing. Discipline, I have come to believe, is the master key to what we wish to gain, become, and accomplish with our lives. So what can we do, be, have? Are there limits to our potential?
It was a mostly clear day, just a few scattered clouds in the mid-west sky. Chris had never been to this community before. His job had brought him here, and he had to work on Saturday. As he peered out of his office window he noticed a railroad yard. Chris had always loved trains. Perhaps tomorrow before work, (yes he had to work on Sunday too) he could drive down and check out the rail yards. And that is where I met Chris. It turned out this young man was the embodiment of discipline. Now here is a guy hundreds of miles from home, in a place he would never have been, had his work not taken him there, and he was working weekends. So how do I figure him to be one of the most disciplined people I may ever meet?You see when Chris caught sight of our rail yard that Saturday afternoon he was mere feet from his co-workers, but four hundred feet above the city, traveling at 700 miles an hour in his F/A- 18 Hornet. Just moments before, he had been pulling a little over 7 G’s as he performed as a part of the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron-
The Blue Angels!We spent almost an hour together, talking railroad and (whenever I could get him to stop talking about trains) flying.
What type of self-discipline do you suppose it takes to become one of this nation’s most élite pilots? Were there days when he wanted to quit, times that he was afraid, that it all seemed just too hard?My guess is yes. But Major Collins persevered, he did not quit and his self-mastery has taken him to places he would never have gone to meet people he would never have met.
In 2009 the Blue Angels performed before more than 8 million spectators. The discipline Chris has employed, over the years, now pays him dividends beyond what he could have imagined and wonder-filled memories to last a lifetime.But most important of all is who he has become, because of all he was willing to do.
What dreams and goals do you have set for your incredible life story?
WHY do you want to accomplish these things? Once we determine WHY we will find the way.
Will the struggle and effort be worth it?
I only spent an hour with Chris, but I’m certain he would smile and say;
‘Yes sir. The sky’s the limit.’
Major Chris Collins
U.S. Marine Corps
Major Christopher Collins is a native of Darien, Conn., and graduated from Darien High School in 1993. He attended Norwich University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management in 1997.
Chris was commissioned a Marine Corps Second Lieutenant through the Platoon Leaders Class and reported to Quantico, Va., for The Basic School in July 1997. He reported for aviation indoctrination at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla., in February 1998. Chris completed primary flight training in the T-34C Mentor at NAS Whiting Field, Fla., and transferred to NAS Meridian, Miss., for intermediate flight training. While there, he flew the T-2C Buckeye. Chris was then assigned to NAS Kingsville, Texas, for advanced flight training where he flew the T-45A Goshawk. He completed his flight training in April 2000 and received his wings of gold in May.
In July 2000, Chris reported to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101), the "Sharpshooters," at MCAS Miramar, Calif., for training in the F/A-18 Hornet. In September 2001, he joined Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323 (VMFA-323), the "Death Rattlers." Chris deployed aboard USS Constellation (CV 64) in October 2002, flying combat missions in support of Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom. Chris also deployed aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), flying combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III. While serving with VMFA-323, he served as the Logistics Officer, Schedules Writer, Powerline Division Officer, Administrative Officer and the Assistant Aviation Maintenance Officer. While there, the "Death Rattlers" received the 2003 Robert M. Hanson Award as the Marine Corps Aviation Association's Fighter Attack Squadron of the Year.
In October 2005, Chris returned to VMFAT-101 as an F/A-18 instructor pilot. During his tour, Chris was selected to attend the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) and graduated in July 2007.
Chris joined the Blue Angels in September 2008, where he served as the Left Wing pilot in 2009. He has accumulated more than 2,800 flight hours and 350 carrier arrested landings. His decorations include three Strike Flight Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals with Combat Distinguishing Device, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and various personal and unit awards.