Narration by Vernon Price
Telepathic message from Mike: Let the Adventures Begin!
Michael at birth:
Michael weighed 8-pounds 5-ounces and was 21.5 inches long.
When he was born, the nurse who brought him out of the waiting room told
me, “Mr. Price, you have a beautiful girl.”
After looking, I asked, “This must be someone else’s, it’s a
boy?” When she looked, she discovered her error and said, “I’m
sorry but this is my first day on the job.”
As I could see, he was all boy.
Michael never liked
watching TV, instead, he would prefer to play or read.
All though his life, TV was never interesting, and reading was his
passion. As a teenager, he
often read a book a day. At one time he had more than one thousand books.
Adventures began at an
early age. While living in Allen,
Texas, he began exploring the underground water drainage system.
He would go deep into the pipes, all the way to the end or until the pipe
was too small to get into. One day,
he disappeared and I was unable to locate him.
I drove around for hours, but no luck, that is until a manhole cover
popped off and out came Michael. He
was exploring the underground drainage system.
He was 8-years old.
Next came the little
league, but Michael didn’t like baseball, “not enough excitement”, he
said. So he joined the Boy Scouts
and saw the excitement and adventure associated with the scouting and especially
being an Eagle Scout. Unfortunately,
things changed preventing Michael from pursuing his dream of being an Eagle
In 1985 Michael moved to
California to live with me and discovered trick bicycling.
Michael did everything to the fullest, never giving up until he reached
his goal (to be the best he could be). This
held true throughout his life. I
remember taking him to Mission Bay in San Diego every Sunday during the summer
and watching him compete with other trick riders.
Michael was at par with the best of the trick riders.
Next it was animals,
especially prehistoric ones. Weekend
visits to the zoo, natural history museum, La Brea Tar Pits and pet shops.
Michael loved all of the animals, so much so that he worked at the local pet
shop after school. He even brought
home pet rats, snakes and other assorted exotic animals. Often times they would get out of their cages and make visits
to my bed. Michael collected
plastic models of prehistoric animals and kept them with him throughout his
Michael met a former Navy
Seal at the pet shop where he worked. This
was his next big adventure, scuba diving. His goal was to be a Navy Seal, but first a master diver,
then a dive master.
It didn’t take Michael long to master diving, and then become a Dive Master. Every Friday night Michael would join his friends for a weekend diving adventure (Santa Catalina Island, San Clements Island, Anacapa Island, or the beach). He liked it so much he talked me into joining him.
But before the Navy, he
said, “I need a skill.” Michael’s
diving buddy was an emergency room nurse. Exactly
what Michael wanted to be, a paramedic or an EMT, then an emergency room nurse.
So Michael went to Citrus College to earn an EMT degree.
After graduation, Michael attended nursing and paramedic classes at Azusa
Pacific with the hope of becoming an emergency room nurse. After testing first in the knowledge and skills test at a
local hospital, the he was turned down for the job, as he was only 17-years old.
The hospital personnel department stated, “There is no way you could
have the skills for the job at your age.”
His next adventure was
mountain climbing. Before going
into the Navy, Michael met a Texas Junior High School classmate at Huntington
Beach. His friend, Mark Peters
lived in Pasadena. They were
friends again, better than friends, more like brothers.
Mark was into computers and mountain climbing. Every weekend Michael and Mark would practice climbing in
backyard trees, on the roof of our house in San Dimas, or in the local
mountains. Michael got so good that
he would never use the door to get into the house; instead he would climb the
wall to the second floor game room. Of
course, he left the same way. One
day he went to the grocery store with me. As
we were walking along, I asked him a question but got no answer.
I called to him and when he answered, it was on the roof of the local
Stater Bros. grocery store. Eventually, Mark and Michael traveled to Joshua Tree and
other climbing sites for weekend climbing.
Michael could scuba dive, climb, ride a bike, and knew a lot about first-aide and medical care, but he was not a Navy Seal. I took Michael to the Navy Seal qualification test site in Los Angeles where he could compete with 156 other hopefuls for a chance to go to seal school. Michael joined the Navy in 1988, with a goal to become a Navy Seal. After 18-months the Navy Michael was stationed aboard the USS Midway in the Persian Gulf when the Navy came after him to go to Navy Seal School. Michael discovered a physical condition that prevented him from becoming a Navy Seal, and opted out of the school.
While aboard the USS Midway, Michael received a Presidential Citation from George W. Bush for bravery. Without regard for his own safety and not dressed in the proper gear, Michael went into a burning ammunitions facility and pulled 3-shipmates to safety. He was unable to save others who perished. Michael was on the USS Midway when the ship evacuated victims of the Mount Pinatubo volcano eruption in the Philippine Islands. Michael received a Navy commendation for his services. Michael received numerous ribbons, medals and citations during is tour on the USS Midway. Most of his awards remain hidden because of his modesty. When the USS Midway returned to San Diego from its last mission, Michael was given the special recognition of 2-bells when departing the ship, an honor reserved only for the ship’s captain. This shows the impression Michael made on the ship’s officers.
When the USS Midway was scheduled to go into mothballs in Seattle,
Washington, Michael was asked to accompany the ship on its last voyage.
He asked me what he should do, and I told his it would be an adventure of
a lifetime being chosen to escort such a famous ship on its last voyage. Michael declined the offer.
Michael was stationed at the Yuma Marine Air Station as a Corpsman at
this time. Also, he had a new baby
on the way, Amanda.
After the Navy Michael worked doing a variety of different things.
Later he and his friend Mark went to Yosemite National Park to work with
the Search and Rescue department. Michael
and Mark had lots of stories to tell about this adventure, especially the
rescues and dangers they encountered. Michael
went out by himself one cold wintry night and found a lost boy.
He also found a missing hiker who was lost for 3-days in the forest.
He and Mark were often called on to make rescues where no one else would
go. One day Michael was called on
to pull a dead body of a college student from the Merced River. The young man had attempted to cross the river but fell and
was trapped by the raging water under a large boulder. Michael harnessed up, went into the river and attempted to
secure a harness on the young man but had difficulty due to the pressure and
current. After securing the man in
a harness, they attempted to pull them out of the river, first by hand, then
with a wench and a vehicle, and last with 2-vehicles. Michael said, “He thought he was being pulled apart.”
Yes, they faced many dangers and survived.
During the stay in
Yosemite they climbed the mountains constantly, either for pleasure or to rescue
climbers. El Capitan, the most
famous one is 6500-feet straight up (or down) and takes an average or 5-days to
climb. Can you imagine being on the
side of a shear cliff for 5-days? Wow!
Here are a few of many of the photos of Michael and Mark as they
experienced climbing adventures.
Of all of his climbing
photos, this is my personal favorite. It
tells it all, a young man at peace with the world.
No fear while on the top of El Capitan surveying the Yosemite Valley.
While at Yosemite, Marks
father, who lived in central California was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and
was given 6-months to live. Mark
went home, and Michael left shortly thereafter to be with his friend.
Over the next year, Michael lived with Mark and cared for his father.
While living with Mark, they began to climb in that area, and sometime
drove to Southern California to climb various sites.
After Mark’s father died, Mark moved to the bay area to be near his
brother and sister, and Michael followed.
In San Francisco Bay area, we find Michael with his boat, scuba diving, and enjoying sailing and fishing adventures. Michael wanted to be the best sailor and worked for as the Harbor Master at the Martinez Marina. During this time, he fished, repaired boats and just had a good time.
To supplement his income he tended bar at Ray’s Corner. There he met many people and made many friends. Everyone speaks highly of Michael, his humor, his zest for life, and his love and respect for people. While at Ray’s Corner he developed many personal female relationships.
It was there that he met Kristina Howard, the girl he said, “was the love of my life" --- "There is one thing I must say to you, one thing you must know. If for some reason I was never to leave this place, there is one reward that I was fortunate enough to recieve in life, it was being able to truely love someone forever.
Forever loving you, Michael"
From Ray’s Corner, he
went to work in the communications field, climbing towers that were more than
1000-feet tall. In this photo, he
is hanging from a girder repairing a cable, which the wind had pulled loose from
its connections. Mark peters took
the photograph. His foot is visible
in the lower right-hand corner. Twelve
years later Mark continues in this line of work.
Mike’s most talked
about adventure was his “oil Wrestling” tour with 4-girls. Michael was the referee but always got involved in the
action. They traveled over the
Midwest, Southwest and West putting on exhibitions at sports bars and
nightclubs. Mike always said,
“Wow, what a life. Four beautiful
ladies all fighting over you.”
As I said earlier, Michael was always studying to be something more. After returning from the oil wrestling tours, he started school to become a security expert and bodyguard. He obtained numerous certificates, and his proudest day was going to work for the Halo group. He gushed with pride that he was able to work for such an elite company.
It was through Halo that Michael was able to make arrangements to go to Iraq. When he told me he was going, I begged him not to go. I told him that life was too short to put yourself into an atmosphere with such a bunch of barbarians. Yet he insisted that he would be safe and would do everything to protect himself. When I received the first photos of him, I was outraged that he was not wearing a helmet. He just refused to wear it.
Mike often drove when escorting a munitions convoy in Iraq.
Michael was in the back of the truck when a roadside bomb was detonated
at Arlington Road and Highway 1 in Bajil, Iraq on April 25, 2004 at 2:25 PM
was flown to a US Army hospital in Baghdad for treatment but he succumbed to his
injuries on April 30, 2004.
Michael’s funeral services were in both California and in Richardson, Texas. It was a beautiful service in Pomona with his friend Lou Michaels singing, “Dust in the Wind” and “Amazing Grace”. In Richardson, Texas the service included Elvis singing “Amazing Grace”, an Navy Honor Guard folding and presenting the American Flag to his mother Alice and the playing of taps. Tears flowed freely from all that attended.
had to say goodbye to my son. Life
will never be the same but we will get by.
Michael, you will always be in my heart, on my mind and in my prayers.
Michael, I love you.
Narration by Vernon Price