News: Michigan Native Fights Past Obstacles, Discovers Career
Story by Lance Cpl. James Frazer
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – The world around us is full of color. Everything has color, from the highest mountains where the green grass struggles to survive amidst endless amounts of white snow, to the darkest depths of the oceans, where fish and plants of every color imaginable survive beneath miles of blue water.
Most people don’t give the world of color around them a second thought, and few can truly imagine a world in which color blindness can make it hard to tell the difference between two opposing colors, like green and red. But for Benton Harbor, Mich., native Michael Price, his color blindness robbed him of the chance to pursue a career he dreamed of as a young boy dismantling the electronics in his old home.
“When I was a little kid I used to take my mom’s VCRs and tape players,” Price said. “I would take them apart and put them back together, and everything I put back together would still work.”
After graduating from Benton Harbor High School, Price originally worked to join the Navy as a nuclear technician. Unfortunately for him, the ability to easily differentiate two colors is a requirement for the Navy. Price refused to be turned from his chosen path, and readily turned to his Marine recruiter and asked if he could enlist as an electrician.
He, unfortunately, had just as much luck in trying to become a Marine technician. Price, undeterred, told his recruiter he wasn’t going to just call it quits and asked to sign himself up with an “open contract,” meaning his job was undesignated when he enlisted.
“I wanted to serve my country,” Price said, “but since I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do, I figured I would do whatever the Marine Corps wanted me to do.”
Fast forward 15 years and now Staff Sgt. Price has had little trouble adapting to his unique challenge while pursuing a career in communications, a passion that he says he was made for.
“It was easy to communicate with my family,” said Price, now the casualty watch staff noncommissioned officer in charge, a position he volunteered for so he could deploy to Afghanistan with the Manpower section of 2nd Marine Division (Forward). “My parents were always easy to talk to about anything, my two sisters talked about everything, and I had a younger brother and we talked about whatever. That made it easy to come into this sort of field, and it made it a lot of fun. I love what I do, and I love Marines and being a communications Marine.”
The chief mission of communications is to provide communication and information system support for operational units. Price’s duties may not involve dismantling radios as often as he would like, but he was happy to find that it is one of his responsibilities to know how the radio systems work and to be able to repair them whenever they break down.
Price said one of the greatest things about the Marine Corps is how it brings together many people from different parts of the United States, and that interacting with fellow Marines from different backgrounds helps him relate better to people.
Another aspect of the Marine Corps Price said he loves is its focus on physical fitness and how easily it fits with his passion for sports like basketball and football.
“I love sports,” Price said. “They help me stay in shape, and it’s a lot of fun to play against others and see how good both of you are. Sports have their own way of letting the players communicate with each other without even saying anything, by expressing their shared passion for the game and competing against one another.”
His passion for sports is one of the things Price enjoys sharing with others.
“Staff Sergeant Price is a good friend of mine, and it’s a lot of fun when we get to go out and (exercise) together,” added Staff Sgt. Gabriel Potter, the assistant logistics officer for Headquarters Battalion and Price’s long-time friend. “It feels great to get outside, catch a little sunshine and lose a little weight.”
Price is currently deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, but has his eyes set on the future. He plans to take college courses during his deployment to set himself up for continued success after the Corps.
“I plan on attending in the next few months,” said Price. “I’d like to major in Criminal Justice so I can continue to work with people after I retire from the Marine Corps.”
Along with a possible career as a corrections officer, Price is eager to begin his own family and start creating the close-knit relationships he was able to share with his parents and siblings.
“I love what I do,” said Price. “I’m protecting and serving the country. When communicating, I get to express my views on life and get to know new people as I learn about their views on life. That’s what communications is all about.”