How unfair is it that we have to ask that question? He was a Major General, for cryin’ out loud! He far outranked both Buzz and Neil.
If you haven’t guessed, he was “the other guy” on Apollo 11. If the first moon landing were rock and roll, he’d be Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! or John Oates of Hall and.
The reason of course that his name isn’t a household word is that he’s the one who didn’t get to walk on the moon like Neil and Buzz. He piloted the command module and stayed in orbit around the moon while Neil and Buzz took the lunar module down to the surface and landed it.
He was pretty much the getaway car driver, which is an extremely integral part of any bank robbery. Can the robbers just leave the bank with the money and grab a taxi? No! And without Collins keeping the command module motor running, Buzz and Neil wouldn’t have been able to leave the moon. Being the first 2 guys to walk on the moon would be more morbid to talk about if their bodies were still up there.
Apollo 11 was Collins’s second space mission, having also flown on Gemini 10. He’s 86 years old and doesn’t have to do nearly as many interviews as the other two. But as far as I’m concerned, he’s part of a unique Mount Rushmore that includes Bonnie and Clyde’s driver and John Dillinger’s driver, neither of whose names I know. Oh what the heck, put Ridgeley and Oates in there.