Lieutenant Colonel Dewey R. Collier, Retired, was born in Temple, Oklahoma, a small ranching community that his Great Grandfather migrated to from Texas with the promise of free land during the historical Oklahoma land rush of the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Coming from an Irish-Native American family who lived paycheck to paycheck; right or wrong, school took second place to the family's welfare. It was common place for the children in Comanche County's ranching community to drop out of school after the eighth grade to assist with their family's ranch. Dewey’s father, on the other hand, insisted that he stay in school and as a result he became the first in his family to graduate from high school. Dewey one-upped his father's dream, and graduated in 1977, a year early at the age of 17, on the honor roll.
Just weeks after graduation, Dewey enlisted into the Army as a Private First Class with guaranteed training as an aircraft mechanic. He attended basic training, arriving at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on 2 February 1978 and then proceeding to Fort Rucker, Alabama, for aircraft maintenance school. The maintenance course was a 12 week self-paced program that Dewey easily completed in 6 weeks.
As a helicopter crew chief at the Pohakuloa Training area Hawaii then Sergeant Collier got an opportunity to put his ethos of selfless service, devotion to others, and personal courage, to the test. September 11, 1981, during a airmobile exercise on the Big Island of Hawaii, the UH-1H helicopter that Dewey was assigned to as the flight crew mechanic crashed into a lava bed due to a severe wind shear. The main rotor destroyed the cockpit, cutting the aircraft in two, rupturing the fuel cells and causing the transmission to exit the aircraft after ripping away the cabin top. Dewey exited the aircraft hoping to avoid an impending explosion when he realized the two pilots were still trapped inside. Covered with jet fuel and realizing the danger, but not thinking of his own personal safety, Dewey returned to the burning aircraft and successfully released both pilots, carrying them to safety.
After completion of his enlistment contract, Dewey pursued and obtained an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Nursing. In 1995, he received a commission in the US Army Reserves as a Second Lieutenant. He continued to further his education by obtaining his Bachelors of Science in Nursing Degree from the University of Phoenix. Dewey recommissioned in the Regular Army as a Nurse Corps officer. During his time in the service of our country he had a vast array of challenging and rewarding duty assignments.
As the Chief of Perioperative Nurse at Darnall Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas, LTC Dewey instituted several changes to personnel training and policy updates that had a notable positive effect on patient outcomes and safety. He was directly responsible for managing a multi million dollar operational budget and over 500 surgical procedures per month. His leadership and training techniques proved invaluable, as demonstrated during the somber events of November 5, 2009, the Fort Hood Nidal Hasan MASCAL shooting.
He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as the Chief Nurse of the 555th Forward Support Surgical Team (FST). Demonstrating an almost uncanny understanding of manpower and resource management, Dewey developed and implemented new doctrine for the FST deployment and was instrumental in the reshaping of all Forward Surgical Teams by the US Army Medial Material Agency. These modifications were proven to be critical during combat operations with the 2nd BCT, 3ID in Bagdad, where his unit had sufficient supplies to treat twice the number of casualties as originally packaged, without increasing the unit foot print or cube capacity.
LTC Collier's last duty assignment was as the Director of the Army Surgical Technology program at AMEDDC&S, Joint Base San Antonio. Dewey was appointed and served on the Baptist Health System's School of Health Professions, and the Department of Surgical Technology Advisory Committee. In 2011, he partnered with the Fayetteville Technical Community College and Service Member Opportunity College Army Degrees in the development of a Surgical Technology Associates Degree Bridge program. This program accredited the Army’s curriculum through those colleges, dramatically decreasing the additional degree completion requirements for Army trained surgical technicians.
In conjunction with the National Board of Surgical Technologist and Surgical Assist (NBSTSA), LTC Collier led a significant effort to obtain the right for Army trained Surgical Technologists graduating from the Army’s Surgical Technician program to challenge the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam and established the first Certified Surgical Technologist testing site within the AMEDDC&S. Dewey was published in The Surgical Technologist Journal in November, 2011, and in addition he was recognized for his leadership in field of surgical technology by NBSTSA. Working in concert with the NBSTSA and AST, Dewey organized and conducted the first Annual AST Conference held on Fort Sam Houston.
Defending the Faith in a Hostile World