Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD)
Senior Enlisted Leader Embodies Long-Standing Tradition

By Darrell D. Ames, JTF-HD Public Affairs

JTF-HD Senior Enlisted Leader, Master Sergeant Paul Price JTF-HD Senior Enlisted Leader, Master Sergeant Paul Price. (Official JTF-HD Photo by Darrell D. Ames)

Military senior enlisted leaders are often regarded as the "backbone" of the armed forces and the primary communication conduit between the officer and enlisted communities. Not only do senior enlisted leaders represent their commander, they also enhance communications and foster a better understanding of the needs and viewpoints of all command members. The Hawaii-based Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) unit’s senior enlisted leader, Army Master Sgt. Paul Price, is considered one of the best at his trade.

"Master Sgt. Price is one of the best non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) I have had the pleasure to work with," said Army Major Stan Garcia, JTF-HD assistant operations chief. "He’s extremely diligent in carrying out his responsibilities and duties and plays one of the most significant roles in our day to day operations," Garcia said.

Price was born on Jun 7, 1973 in Fairfax, Va., but grew up in Sterling, Va. under the guiding hand of some very positive role models. "My parents did a fine job of raising me and instilling a sense of values and principles in me," said Price. "My brother and sister are positive role models, as well. My brother joined the Navy, and that is why I chose to join the military," Price said.

Price is also fortunate to have a supportive wife. "My wife Debbi is my best friend and makes it possible for me to focus on my job," said Price. Price’s father, an Army veteran, wasn’t too excited about his son entering the service, but has always supported his decision. "My mother was very excited about me joining the Army, but my father had to warm up to the idea," said Price. "They are both very proud of me."

His enlistment in the Army on Sep.29, 1993 almost didn’t happen. "I was living at home at the time and basically heading nowhere," Price said. Price decided to join the military. "I had visited with a Navy recruiter initially," Price said. "While waiting for a Navy Sea Air and Land (SEAL) contract to become available to me, my mother prompted me to get on with my life and go sign up," said Price. However, when Price went to sign on the dotted line the Navy recruiter was out of the office. "I was about to walk out, but there was an Army recruiter there. He said he wasn’t supposed to talk to me since the Navy recruiter had been working with me, but I started asking him questions and he told me he could sign me up and get me to basic training within a month," Price said. His next stop was the Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPS) in Baltimore, Md.

Master Sergeant Paul Price, JTF-HD Senior Enlisted Leader Master Sergeant Paul Price, JTF-HD Senior Enlisted Leader. (Official JTF-HD Photo by Darrell D. Ames)

Following basic training at Fort Sill, OK Price was assigned to the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. "It was during my time at Redstone that I decided to change my Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) code," said Price. "I changed my MOS to infantry so I had to go to Fort Benning, GA for advanced individual training," Price said. It was then that Price decided to attend Airborne School and Ranger Indoctrination. Following intense Ranger training Price was assigned to the 3rd Ranger Battalion in Fort Benning. "I served as a rifleman, saw gunner, team leader, motorcycle team leader, and squad leader at Fort Benning," Price said. He transferred to the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii in 1998 to serve as squad leader, scout team leader, and platoon sergeant. "It was during my tour in Hawaii that I deployed to Afghanistan," said Price. Following his deployment Price returned to Fort Benning in 2005 to become a Ranger Instructor and eventually to Airborne School as the First Sergeant. "I’ve had a pretty diverse and exciting career so far," said Price, "and there are still plenty of good days ahead."

At JTF-HD Price fills the role of the Command Sergeant Major, Security Manager, Operations NCO, Agency Program Coordinator, Defense Travel System Coordinator, and the overall "answer man" for the entire staff. "Whenever anyone needs anything or has any questions about anything they always come to me," said Price. The fact that everyone in the command goes to Price for the "answer" is a testament to his indisputable value and ability to "get the job done".

"He makes things happen," said JTF-HD Chief of Operations, Army Lt. Col. Robin Lau. "I can’t imagine what it would be like without him. It would be like cutting off your right arm," Lau said. Despite his modesty Price understands his value in the office. "When I leave a unit I would like them to remember me as a hard worker who always tried to help. I hate the phrase ‘that's not my job," Price said.

"I love the Army," said Price. "I enjoyed teaching and training as a First Sgt. at Airborne School and being an instructor at Ranger School. It was rewarding to be the only pathfinder on the ground with my company at Afghanistan and calling in Medical Evacuation Units (MEDEVAC’s) and being able to aid some military and local nationals," Price said. A pathfinder is a paratrooper inserted or dropped into place to set up and operate drop zones, pickup zones, and helicopter landing sites for airborne operations, air resupply operations, or other air operations in support of the ground unit commander.

"I don’t have too many regrets," said Price, "but I do regret leaving the Ranger battalion when I was a Staff Sgt. Price attributes his success to setting goals and placing time limits on those goals. "You have to push yourself and always strive to do better," Price said.

An immediate goal that Price is striving to achieve is earning the rank of Sgt. Major and earning his Bachelors Degree. "Those are my immediate goals," said Price. "In 10 years I hope to be in northern Virginia working on my next retirement and enjoying my season tickets to Washington Redskin’s football games." Based on his present track record it’s a safe bet that’s exactly where he’ll be.

JTF-HD, with its Defense Coordinating Element, is based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii and is designated as the Homeland Defense coordinating agency between the Department of Defense and the civilian authorities in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands as well as three foreign governments in the JOA to include the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Working closely with Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and military organizations in the Pacific, JTF-HD develops a Common Operational Picture and helps coordinate implementation of a comprehensive Critical Infrastructure Protection Program.