TRUCKEE, Calif. — Hundreds came out Saturday to pay respects to Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Andrew Collins, who died in a Navy helicopter crash off the Virginia coast earlier this month.
People holding American flags lined Donner Pass Road late Saturday morning as a vehicle procession that included Patriot Guard Riders and emergency vehicles made its way to Truckee High School, where Collins attended school.
At Surprise Stadium, military honors were given, including a rifle salute and American flag presentations to each of Collins’ family members. It’s estimated 1,000 attended that portion of the ceremony, said Truckee Police Chief Adam McGill.
The service continued inside Truckee High’s gym, where family, friends and comrades recalled stories of Collins’ life, garnering laughs, sniffles and dabbing of eyes by those in attendance.
Additional memories were shared through pictures, home movies and voice mails showcasing Collins’ big smile, playful personality and love for family and friends.
“Every day I live without him, I vow to embrace the world as he did — big smiles, good laughs, strong friendships and undeniable love,” said Cheyenne Collins, Brian’s wife of a little more than a year, at the service. “Words do not express how grateful I am to have been blessed by this extraordinary man, my husband, for too brief of a time, and I will carry him forever with me in my heart and in my soul.”
Collins — who grew up in Truckee and attended Truckee Elementary, Sierra Mountain Middle and Truckee High schools — died Jan. 8 after a routine training exercise for mine countermeasures went wrong. He was 25.