"They taught me the value of an honest days work. You know, if you work hard and you give a good effort at what you do then at some point that is going to pay off," said New Mississippi Adjutant General Augustus L. Collins.
Mississippi's first African American Adjutant General Augustus Collin's says lessons like that are from the strong foundation his parents provided during his humble beginnings in Booneville, Mississippi.
"My mother was a school teacher and my father was a factory worker, but we did farming on the side," said General Collins.
General Collins says growing up on a farm in the 60's taught him an honest days work, but thanks to his mother General Collins says the importance of an education was a notion he was aware of at an early age.
"My mother went back to college after my older sister and I were born. If she was going to take that type of effort and already having a family, and going back and getting a degree than that was what was expected of me," said General Collins.
Those expectations led General Collins to college, but a conversation with his high school assistant football coach, who served in the national guard, led General Collins to his military career. Although, a career wasn't his initial intentions.
"I was thinking this is something that could be kind of interesting, but also a little extra money because of drills and that kind of thing. I figured I'd do my six years and get out," said General Collins.
Six years turned into 30, because an officer encouraged him to take a certain exam.
"It was the OCS entrance exam. Office Candidate School Entrance Exam, and I passed it. The next thing I knew I was going off to Officer Candidate School to go through training, and get a commission as a second lieutenant," said General Collins.
General Collins said African Americans were not in high ranking positions in the military at that time.
"Matter of fact, when I went to officer candidate school, I was the only African American in my class," said General Collins.
However, those circumstances gave General Collins the determination to move forward. General Collins received multiple assignments. One made him the first black Mississippi Guard General, and the other lead him to Iraq.
"I served in operation Iraqi freedom back in 2005. I was the commander of the 155th Brigade Combat team, which was a fairly large force. I believe it is still the largest mobilization of Mississippi guardsmen since World War ll," said General Collins.
Now, he serves as the adjutant general of Mississippi. The top position in the National Guard, an appointment he says was unexpected and one he is proud to have.
"It's an opportunity for me to work with some of the greatest men and women that you will find anywhere. Right here in the Mississippi National Guard," said General Collins.