Heroism in Iraq earns medal for Bartow man

BARTOW, Ga. - Master Sgt. George Price Jr. has been in the Air Force for 18 years and has what he describes as "the best job in the world."


As part of the Air Force's 45th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., he's met U.S. presidents and other dignitaries, has traveled the world, and recently was awarded a Bronze Star.

But he doesn't necessarily see himself as a hero. The medal is awarded to military service members for heroic or meritorious service.

Sitting in his mother's living room during a recent visit home, he described the incident in Iraq that led to his receiving the medal.

"That particular day," he said, "it was a normal day, if you can say any day over there is normal."

Someone had found an IED, or improvised explosive device, on a road. Master Sgt. Price and his team responded to the call. Following normal procedures, Master Sgt. Price deployed the explosive ordnance disposal robot, not realizing the bomber was still in the area. The bomber detonated the bomb.

"I sprang up," Master Sgt. Price said, "and did a 360 search, another 360. I caught him out of the corner of my eye."

Master Sgt. Price said he chased down the suspect.

"I was mad, too, 'cause it had blown up my robot," he said.

The team sprayed the man's hands with a special compound that turns the skin pink if it's been in contact with explosives.

"He sprayed positive," Master Sgt. Price said.

When asked what she thinks of her son and his job, his mother said softly, "I just leave him in the hands of the Lord. Every man has his job. I do worry about him sometimes."

Besides defusing bombs and sweeping for devices, Master Sgt. Price and his unit also investigate explosions.

"We try and re-enact the scene," he said.

Master Sgt. Price, about to leave for his sixth mission to Iraq, talked about the situation there.

"Only the bad things get reported," he said. "We do a lot of good over there."

Master Sgt. Price said he and his team pray every day before leaving on a mission, when they return, and at the end of the day.

"There are no atheists in a foxhole," he said.

He said he has had many rewarding experiences, but at the top was being greeted by President Bush.

"He took the time to ask me how I was doing," Master Sgt. Price said. "... He actually came out to us and shook our hands and said, 'Hey, you're doing a great job.'"