"Your one of a kind. And really really missed, know you kept a lot of people smiling and we will continue to smile when we think of you and what you have achieved in your life. You are always in my prayers. xXx"
Marine Paul M Collins, aged 21, served as an Air Door Gunner with 847 Naval Air Squadron. He was single and based at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.
Paul Collins joined the Royal Marines in June 2003. Having won his green beret in February 2004, he joined M Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines, based at Bickleigh Barracks in Plymouth, as a Team Radio Operator. In a very short time he proved himself to be a very capable and professional individual. His Company commander at the time reported him to be a very fit, polite and courteous marine who was enthusiastic and confident in all that he did. Marine Collins was a popular member of his company, with a large circle of friends and noted for his support of others.
He joined 847 Naval Air Squadron in September 2005 and soon after qualified as an Air Door Gunner, deploying to Norway earlier in the year before assuming his role in Iraq in March 2006.
Colonel John McCardle Royal Marines, Commanding Officer Commando Helicopter Force, said of him:
“Paul was the epitome of what the Royal Marines represent. A fit, intelligent young man he was totally professional, in every thing he did and enjoyed life to the full. He was an extremely popular member of both his squadron and throughout the Commando Helicopter Force.”
His parents have given the following tribute:
"Paul was a wonderful young man and so full of potential and zest for life. He was physically and mentally strong, though this was tempered by an intelligent, thoughtful and caring nature.
"He loved outdoor pursuits and from an early age of ten had wanted to be a Royal Marine. This dream was nearly spoilt due to injuries sustained in a motor cycle accident; however he fought back, recovered and fulfilled his dream passing out from Commando Training Centre on 13 February 2004. Though his time with the Corps was only short he made many good friends and was never happier than being with his ‘brothers in arms’.
"Paul was a much loved son and brother to Mark who will be missed greatly by all his family and friends. We would also like to express our thanks to all in the MOD for their support services and would request that the media respect our need for privacy at what is a very distressing and difficult time for us."