Korea veteran, Collier, thriving at Adult Day Service

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Orbin Collier, a recent participant at the Pulaski Adult Day Service & Fall Prevention Center shows off his hand-crafted sign honoring his military service.  Collier served as an engine mechanic during the Korean War, with the Airborne 11th Squadron.  He repaired and maintained the engines of the J57, F100, F101, and B-52 bombers. (Danielle Reid/The Patriot)



The Patriot


It is difficult to comprehend the giftings and depth of a person’s life just by looking at them.  Often, it takes careful coaching before a person will reveal personal details about their lives; details that can enrich other’s understanding and appreciation of their contributions to society.


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At eighteen, Pulaski native Orbin Collier, began military service during the Korean War. He served at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan as jet engine repair and maintenance personnel. Often, he would have to crawl into the nose of the plane to work on the engine.

Orbin Collier, a fairly new participant in the Pulaski Adult Day Service & Fall Prevention Center, is such a person.  He is enjoying going to the 4,200-square-foot Pulaski Adult Day Service & Fall Prevention Center which was established in November 2016.  The Center offers multiple services and therapies to help the day care participants improve their quality of life.


According to Collier’s daughter and caregiver, Cheryl Barham, “I recommend the Pulaski Adult Day Service & Fall Prevention Center one-hundred percent for anyone who has a loved one who is sitting at home doing nothing.  The staff are the nicest people I’ve ever met and are so good to my Dad.  It’s not a retirement center or a rehab.  It’s a place for them to do activities and enjoy life again.”


Participants are encouraged to enjoy the home-like atmosphere and become involved in meaningful activities which include gardening with the help of the Master Gardeners’ Club, music, games, dancing, socializing, exercise, crafts, artwork and using the interactive smart board donated by the CE Richardson Benevolent Foundation of Pulaski.

Collier is doing just that – sharing some of his life stories with the Center’s Director, Dr. Linda Davis, the staff and his fellow participants; while working on arts and crafts projects.  His most recent art project is a large sign honoring his military duty while stationed at the Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa during the Korean Conflict.  He served as a jet engine mechanic with the Airborne 11th Squadron, servicing the engines on J57 jet engines, F100 and F101 engines and the B52 bombers.


“I began my military service at age 18 and was sent to school on Okinowa for the six-weeks training for engine maintenance.  We all tried hard to pass the tests because we didn’t want to repeat another six-weeks of training.  It was mostly on the job training right after class.”


At first, Collier worked in the engine repair shop, but was later put on the flight line.

“I got to talk to the pilots and they told me what they thought were the problems.  It could be something with the fuel control, the oil pump, battery box, or just general maintenance.  Most of the time, I would have to crawl into the nose of the plane to work.  We couldn’t use anything but a flashlight to see because anything else might ignite and set the plane on fire.  If I couldn’t fix the problem there, I would have to pull the engine out of the plane for a major overhaul in the shop.”


After being discharged from duty in Okinawa, Collier was stationed at Griffith Air Force Base in Rome, NY.  During his stay there, he met Helen Pabis at a USO-sponsored dance.  She asked him to dance, but he declined, eventually admitting he didn’t know how to dance.


“She wouldn’t accept an excuse and said she would teach me.  We danced all night together and eventually got married.  We were married for 60 years.”


Collier has two daughters, one son and four grandchildren.  His daughter Cheryl and granddaughter Helena are nurses and also his caretakers.  Mary is his younger daughter and Gary is his son.  Collier is a Pulaski native and grew up on a small family farm where he daily milked the family cows and did chores to help his parents.


When he was discharged from the Air Force, he and his wife returned to Pulaski, built his own house, and raised his family while working for Lynchburg Foundry in Radford for 40 years.


“At the Foundry we made pipe, up to 24-inches in diameter used for the water lines all over the county,” Collier remarked.  “It was a brutally hot and physically demanding job.”


In an interesting turn of events, Collier’s granddaughter Helena followed in her mother’s career path as a nurse.  While attending classes for the Registered Nursing Program at NRCC, Helena Latain Barham did her clinical experience at the Pulaski Adult Day Service & Fall Prevention Center.  She was so impressed with the staff and activities that she told her mother about the center when they were trying to find a place where Collier could thrive.

Since 2019, the Center has provided hands on clinical experiences in caring for older adults for 243 students from RU School of Nursing in the Gerontology Nursing course and Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing course, RU School of Occupational Therapy Program and New River Community College Registered Nursing Program.


At the Center, participants are provided with breakfast, lunch (purchased from Pulaski County Schools) and afternoon snack. Disabled adults with needs such as assistance with eating, toileting, ambulating, bathing/dressing and other special needs are cared for with respect and love.

Many low to moderate income families in our area are served regardless of their ability to pay.  Since opening in November 2016, the Center has provided care for 39 families and many of the participants remain at the Center for 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week.


Collier is able to attend the Center because of a new service they offer:  transportation!

“We have had a van capable of transporting participants to the Center, but we didn’t have a driver.  Now we do, and he has a route to pick up individuals and bring them to the Center on a daily basis.  Additionally, if people can ride the transit to the Martin’s Pharmacy in Dublin transit stop, we can take the van over and pick them up.”


Collier’s daughter Cheryl shares her enthusiastic comments about the Pulaski Adult Day Service.

“The people at the Center are the nicest people I’ve ever met.  They are so good to my Dad.  He tells me when he gets home that they keep him busy.  He brags about the good food.  If I ever made a good decision for my Dad, it is having him go to the Pulaski Adult Day Service & Fall Prevention Center.  It is the best decision I made for my Dad.”