US Afghanistan SEAL Death

Navy SEAL Commander Job Price remembered as Pottstown hero

Navy Seal Commander Job Price

Job Price wasn’t one to mull over a challenge, never one to dare deny any. In fact, he would ask for them and embrace them.An honor student as well as an outstanding football player and wrestler at Pottstown High School, Price always wanted to do more than was expected of him, both academically and athletically. That determination became even more evident throughout his four years at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in human behavior and leadership.

But Price was never as resolute, never as strong-minded in confronting all challenges — and overcoming each and every one of them — as he was during his 19 years of service as a Navy SEAL.

It was a highly decorated career that ended, tragically, with his death while supporting stability operations in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan three days before Christmas.

Commander Price, the son of Harry and Nancy Price of Pottstown, also leaves behind his wife, Stephanie, and 9-year-old daughter Jillian.

Memorial services for Commander Price were held Thursday on the Joint Expeditionary Base, Amphibious Base Little Creek in Fort Story, Va. The hour-plus service was originally scheduled to be held in the base chapel — where the Prices were married — but had to be moved to nearby Gator Theater because of the estimated 600-plus military personnel and civilians in attendance.

Many of those paying their respects were former Pottstown classmates and teammates, among them Brad Davidson, Tom Medvetz, Jeff Scott and Brent Voynar. Also present were Jim Tsakonas and John Armato, Price’s head coach and assistant coach, respectively, in wrestling at Pottstown.

“Job’s commitment, dedication and focus to goals were the qualities that separated him from others,” Armato recalled after returning from Va. “Those qualities only separated him in terms of wanting to achieve, not in terms of interacting with other people.

“He was clearly liked, obviously. He was an integral part of his class, too. And regardless of whether someone was athletically inclined, academically inclined or artistically inclined, there were no separations. Job interacted with everyone.”

Job Price with Pottstown High School wrestling coaches Jim Tskonas , left and John Armato right.

Price certainly had that presence.

One who remembered it well was Pottstown graduate Seth Ecker, a two-time NCAA Division III wrestling champion at Ithaca. While at Pottstown, Ecker sat down with Price — home for a visit — for nearly 90 minutes during a practice one winter afternoon.

“Mr. Price stands to be by far the most interesting gentleman I ever met in my life,” Ecker wrote on Facebook last week. “I fear there is no possible way to give a man like Mr. Price any justice after his passing … a man who chose a career that would require him to be a hero every day without the proper acknowledgment.

“I am personally amazed at the life Job Price led with conviction, courage, determination, compassion and countless other traits that are unrivaled by most people in this world. Mr. Price was a man I hardly knew, but a man I will always passionately admire.”

Armato saw all of those qualities in Price many years earlier.

“That was the way Job was from Day One,” Armato explained. “His attributes were a testament to his parents, how they raised him and what they instilled in him. We’d like to say we helped instill those attributes in him, but he came to us like that.”

Price, a member of the National Honor Society who graduated No. 3 in his class, was an integral part of Pottstown’s two Pioneer Athletic Conference championships his senior year. He was a two-way starter on the line for the Trojans’ football team, then anchored the wrestling lineup at heavyweight for the Trojans, who not only won the PAC-10 but went on to sweep the Section Four, District 1-AAA South and Southeast Region team titles and finish with a spotless 20-0 record.

He continued to tackle the challenges he confronted at the Air Force Academy and those during the well-documented Navy SEAL training.

No one, perhaps, knew more than Armato just how hard Price worked to become a SEAL.

While back home soon after graduating from the Air Force Academy, Price met up with Armato for a swim at Gruber Pool. Price was aware of Armato’s routine in preparing for triathlons, and wanted to learn more about it.

“Boy, did he struggle (swimming a lap),” Armato recalled. “He was no Johnny Weismuller (former Olympic champion and later star of the Tarzan movies), I can tell you that.

“But he wanted to start swimming and running with me. Later, we had a conversation and he told me what his plan was, that he had always thought about becoming a Navy SEAL. Well, he didn’t just learn how to swim, he became a strong swimmer. He approached that like he approached everything in life … whatever it took, Job did it.”

Did it well, too.

Price accepted a commission in the U.S. Navy and reported to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, graduating from there in late 1993. Assigned to SEAL Team Four, he completed two deployments to Naval Special Warfare in Panama and then transferred to SEAL Team Two and completed deployments in Spain and Kosovo as the Special Operations Command Europe Reconnaissance commander.

In 2001, Price transferred to Naval Special Warfare Unit Ten and performed duties as the Amphibious Ready Group Operations Officer, as well as an assignment to Special Operations Command Central at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. He conducted multiple deployments to the Middle East in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Six years ago, he was assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Central in Bahrain as the U.S. Special Operations Plans Officer, where he supported sustained combat operations through the fifth Fleet area. He was also involved in the planning and execution of multiple fleet operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Most recently, Price — inducted into Pottstown High School’s Alumni Roll just over a year ago — assumed command of the 300 members of SEAL Team Four.

“What many of us don’t realize is that 10 or so of his 19 years in the service were spent away from his family and far away from the things we were enjoying here, just to make sure we could still enjoy them,” Armato said. “And most of those other years were spent preparing for deployment, spent preparing to go places where we wouldn’t ever want to go.”

Job Price at right with wife, Stephanie, and daughter Jillian.

Holding the rank of Commander, Price had received two Bronze Star medals, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal three times, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal three times, and the Navy Achievement Medal two times. He was also a graduate of the U.S. Army Rangers School.

The Navy produced a slideshow and had a display case of his ribbons and medals for those to see at Thursday’s services. An honor guard was present outside Gator Theater. A color guard stood inside throughout the service, which featured speeches from a handful of military personnel — all of whom spoke of Price’s value as an officer, for his ability to bring different units together on a joint mission.

“It was a highly-dignified service,” Armato said. “It was an uplifting service, a celebration of life … recognizing Job’s dedication and his commitment to preserve the freedoms we enjoy.

“Job understood the importance of placing the greater good above self, and he dedicated his career to helping ensure our freedom. Our country has lost a leader, a dedicated patriot, a true American hero.”

Commander Price’s ashes were scattered at sea Friday.

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