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Prime Living: Aiken County veteran serving as state-level commander of American Legion

Ron Price, as a retiree, no longer reports to work for a traditional shift, but the Ridge Spring resident still has a loaded schedule at age 66, serving as the state-level commander of the American Legion, representing thousands of veterans from Jackson to Myrtle Beach and Rock Hill to Hardeeville. 

The Augusta native's background includes 44 years of federal service, with the longest stretch – 1974 to 2004 – being in the Army, retiring as a command sergeant major.

"He's always helping other people," in the words of Army veteran and Aiken resident Leslie Hill, who has known Price for about 31 years, when their families were both stationed in Alaska. 

He started and ended his career at Fort Gordon, working in logistics and staying in that specialty all the way, while developing a fondness for golf, snow skiing and scuba diving. 

"I try to stay as active as I can, although my age is now starting to catch up with me; and I am starting to slow down some, but I don't plan to stop," Price said. "I strongly believe in this commercial that I have watched numerous times, and I always tell my wife, 'Pay attention,' and that is, 'Those in motion tend to stay in motion,' and so I try to stay in motion at all times." 

Price, having spent years at the massive Army installation just outside Augusta, is accustomed to traveling all the way across Aiken County to go to and from work. As a retiree, he still makes a similar trip, as an active member of American Legion Post 71, in North Augusta. 

The post's headquarters has a major role in the state's American Legion history, as Price is Post 71's fourth member to become the state organization's top leader. 

His predecessors include Nathan M. "Nat" Wolfe (the post's namesake), who filled the role in 1973; Norma J. Walker (the first woman to fill the state-level post), 2005; and Michael D. Strauss, also known to some as North Augusta's animal-control officer, with the North Augusta Department of Public Safety, 2018.  

Price and his wife, Carolyn, have a place in their heart for rural life, so they live on a 16-acre tract in Ridge Spring, with horses among their nearest neighbors.

"I like a well-groomed yard ... and I have enough acreage out back where if I want to go deer hunting or turkey hunting, I can do so, so that's really nice," he said. 

Carolyn is a Ridge Spring native, Price recalled.

"We met in Augusta, got married, and took off for about 30 years in the military ... and when we came back and it was time for retirement, she basically said, 'You know, I followed you around for 30 years. Now I'm going home. Do you want to come with me?'" They reached a quick agreement. 

His final role at Fort Gordon was as the chief of transportation. His division, he said, was responsible for "any movement," such as having a unit flying out or having soldiers move around the installation for training. Freight operations were also part of the package, with the movement of personal property for a new soldier or a high-ranking officer. 

"We lived in Alaska for 12 years ... 40 miles north of Anchorage, in a little town called Wasilla," he said, noting that Fort Richardson was his base of military operations for much of that time.  

He also touched on his week-to-week concerns in his role as the state's top American Legion official.

"We have 163 posts spread throughout ... South Carolina, and those posts, the membership can range from 15 all the way up to 1,500, and ... the biggest thing that we want to try to do is to keep our post members energized and ensure that they're reaching out to other veterans or families of fallen veterans, to provide whatever support they're able to do," he said. 

Price's term runs from the start of June through the end of May. The best part of the job is "the ability to work with the local veterans service officer in support of our veterans," he said. 

It is hugely rewarding to see a veteran give a massive sigh of relief "because he or she feels like they're being taken care of."

The American Legion, he added, is "a very tight-knit group, and what I mean by that is, as veterans, it doesn't matter if you're from the Air Force, Navy, Marines, whatever. We are all veterans; and when we get together, we all are able to share similar experiences in our service."

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