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Camaraderie and the U.S. Army: the career of Col. Michael James Price

Camaraderie and the U.S. Army: the career of Col. Michael James Price

Story by SPC Samantha Hall on 02/21/2019

U.S. Army Col. Michael James Price, Senior Army Advisor to the Michigan National Guard, West Point graduate and engineer, Afghanistan veteran and Jihadi Medal awardee, knew he wanted to be a warrior as a fifth-grader in the “itty-bitty” town of Heron, Michigan. The town is five miles from where his Airman father worked, a facility now known as Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center.

His father soon retired and settled in the slightly larger settlement of DeWitt, Michigan, mid-way through Price’s first semester of high school. His parents strongly encouraged him and his brother to join a sports team there.

“You need to be involved so you meet people, do something. You’re not just going to lay around the house,” he paraphrased his parents’ command. Price complied, running both cross country and track well enough his records still grace the halls of DeWitt High School.

Out of high school, Price applied for every military academy available and was accepted into West Point, where he got his first taste of the Army family.

“Tough education, hard academics; but it was fun. Just like joining any military organization, it’s the camaraderie,” he said, a concept that would follow him through a 30-year career spanning from defending West Germany to bolstering infrastructure in Afghanistan and bridging the gap between Army National Guardsmen and active component Soldiers at Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing, Michigan, his final assignment.

“There’s always been a rift between active duty and guard and reserve, a love-hate relationship. I saw it when I first came in the Army. I saw it at Fort Knox when I was there for training. I saw it a Fort Drum.”

Price’s role as Senior Army Advisor ensures National Guardsmen are “prepared when they’re called” to an active component standard.

“Coming here now, after the last 18 years of war where active and reserve and guard had to work side by side, and you see it every day down-range, that rift is closed.”

“Once they’re employed, there’s really, in my mind, no difference between the active guy, gal, Soldier and the guard Soldier,” he said, then gestured to the left side of his uniform, just over his heart. “It says U.S. Army on here. It doesn’t say U.S. Active Component, U.S. National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve. It says U.S. Army. We are one team.”

When his family returned to DeWitt briefly while he was deployed to Afghanistan, his youngest son was a freshman in high school, just like he had been. Like his parents before him, Price urged his son to get involved in the school, perhaps join the track team as he had. His son’s initially refused; however, Price’s old coach just so happened to be his son’s social studies teacher.

Needless to say, Price’s “number-four” son became a proficient pole-vaulter. He now has followed his father’s footsteps into the halls of West Point Military Academy.

“The Army is a family business,” Price said. That family holds strong, whether through blood or brotherhood in arms. “There’s goodness in that.”

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