I was just rereading my post on the company guidon when I recalled an incident that elevated my former company commander to almost legendary status. Like me, Captain Price came from civilian police to Military Police. We’d known each other before the military and became good friends.
Things had gone south for me. When the mine in Questa, in northern New Mexico, shut down, the town pretty much closed. A lot of us were out of work. I was confident that sooner or later I’d get another police job, but a lot of other departments were either laying off, not hiring, or the hiring process was insane. In the meantime, unemployment wasn’t paying a lot of bills, and the bank took away everything I owned.
So, I enlisted in the army, went through MP school, and was assigned to Ft. Riley, Kansas. At the time, the Reception Company (where soldier report, get in processing done, and then get sent to their units) was right across the street from the MP companies.
I remember walking out of the Reception Company to the parking lot. The Reception Company and the MPs shared the lot, and I see this Captain walking to his car.
He sees me.
I snapped him a salute, and he returns it and says, “I know you!”
I replied, “I know you too, Sir.”
“You were a cop in Questa!”
“And you were in Roswell. What happened?”
His story had a lot of similarities to mine. The difference was he had a commission in the Army reserves, dusted it off, and went active duty. Now he was Captain of the 1st Military Police Company.
Years later, tired of working narcotics and MPI, I walked over and talked to him and the First Sgt. about coming over. I’m the only person they ever went to the Sgt. Major and asked for him by name.
But this story isn’t about me. This is about Capt. Scott Price.
I’m not sure if the military still does this but every year or so, they use to have an exercise called REFORGER. The name stands for Return of Forces to Germany, and it pretty well describes what was happening. In the event of Soviet aggression, we’d saddle up several stateside divisions, and send them to Europe. There, they’d be paired up with propositioned equipment, and join in the fighting.
It was during one of those REFORGER exercises in Germany, Captain Price and his driver were out driving about. To say they got lost would be an understatement. The exercise always has an opposition force (OPFOR), and before long they realized they were in OPFOR territory.
If that wasn’t bad enough, they found themselves at the OPFOR Division Command post. Several guards stood at a gate, checking traffic in. Captain Price related that he just knew they’d be taken prisoner. Instead, the guard waves them up and looks in.
I have this vision of Captain Price playing Obi-Wan Kenobi (“You don’t need to see our IDs.”). The guards open the gate and let them through. So here they are, driving around the compound that includes the Division Battle Central. No one is even giving them a questioning look despite the MP brassards on their shoulders and the Big Red One patch on them.
So, Captain Price improvised. He had his driver stop and he gets out of the vehicle. He walks right up to the Battle Central access control tent. The division guidon is outside. He takes it from where it’s mounted, rolls it up, and goes back to the Humvee. Again, no one questioned him or did anything except salute as he walked past.
He gets back in the Humvee, and places the guidon in back. They leave, and they’re allowed out, no questions asked. They find their way back to their lines, and he finds an OC, the refs of the war games. He tells them what they did, and presents the guidon as proof.
The refs declare the enemy Battle Central destroyed and everyone there dead for 24 hours. While it’s unlikely this would happen in actual war, what Captain Price had done was to decapitate an enemy division.
He, his driver, and gunner received the Army Commendation Medal for their “Raid.”
1st MPs was allowed to keep the OPFOR guidon as a trophy. I recalled seeing it in the Captain’s office and hearing the story about it. I don’t recall which outfit it belonged to.
Captain Price was one seriously good man, soldier, leader, and friend.