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Officials are investigating the death of Navy SEAL Cmdr. Job W. Price, 42.
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By Dianna Cahn
The Virginian-Pilot (MCT)
The last time John Armato saw his friend and triathlon partner Job Price, the two men went on a training run through the forest, then jumped into a creek and continued to run until it got too deep and they shifted to swimming.
That day last summer in Pennsylvania, they ran and swam and ran and swam some more, having what Armato--23 years Price's senior--called "a really good time challenging one another."
A week later, Price left on deployment to Uruzgan province in northern Afghanistan, where he was commanding a team of SEALs based in Virginia Beach.
"One of the last things we talked about had to do with how proud he was of the men he was leading," Armato said. "He had just a tremendous amount of admiration [for them]."
Price, 42, a Navy commander, died Saturday in what the Defense Department described as "a noncombat-related injury." The Associated Press and other news agencies reported that his death was being investigated as a possible suicide.
Famously secretive, the SEALs don't talk about their missions--or their losses. But Armato, contacted in Price's hometown of Pottstown, Pa., where his parents still live, described watching a talented young man grow into a dedicated leader.
Price came into Armato's life as a boy on the wrestling team that Armato coached at Pottstown High School and quickly defined himself as a talented athlete who inspired his teammates with an unyielding will to succeed and an ability to make people laugh.
His friend remembers it as a magnetic combination.
"He was always the guy to come up with the words that would bring a smile to everyone's face regardless of what the situation was," Armato said.
"Some of the characteristics that made Job an outstanding athlete and someone his peers looked up to are the same qualities that led him to successfully complete the Air Force Academy and become a Navy SEAL and rise in the ranks of the military."
After Price left high school and went on to the Air Force Academy, he stayed in touch with his coach and visited him when he came back to town.
One summer, Price joined the coach on a running and swimming workout. During the run, Armato said, Price told him he planned to join the SEALs.