Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dr. Maj. John Pryor Dies in Iraq

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What many people have failed to recognize since the wars in both Afghanistan in Iraq commenced is the reason the death toll is so low when compared to other wars in that we now have a corps of excellent doctors and surgeons (my late cousin Ray having been one) who have been trained to save the lives of those injured in battle. One of these great surgeons was killed in Iraq on Christmas day:

John P. Pryor, 42, of Moorestown, the dedicated leader of the University of Pennsylvania's trauma team and a decorated major in the Army Reserve who wrote eloquently about the painful parallels between battlefield deaths and urban homicides, was killed on Christmas by enemy fire in Iraq while serving as a combat surgeon.

Dr. Pryor deployed Dec. 6 and was with a risky frontline surgical unit when he was killed by shrapnel from a mortar round. It was his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Dr. Pryor, who was experienced and cool under pressure, was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and raised near Albany. He completed surgical training at the State University of New York in Buffalo, and came to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. After a fellowship in trauma surgery and critical care, he joined Penn's surgical faculty and served as director of the hospital's nationally recognized trauma program.
This guy was truly amazing. Consider his actions on September 11:

A technically skilled surgeon with a fierce adventurous streak, Dr. Pryor dashed to the heart of Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001, to volunteer his services. He wound up deciphering and filling medical requests that crackled over rescue-team radios.

"I don't think about it every day, but I've had flashbacks," he said in 2002.
And this:

"In Iraq, ironically, I found myself drawing on my experience as a civilian trauma surgeon each time 'mascals,' or 'mass casualty situations,' would overrun the combat hospital," he told NPR last year. "As nine or 10 patients from a firefight rolled in, I sometimes caught myself saying, 'Just like another Friday night in West Philadelphia.'"
Thank you for your service to your country and to mankind Dr. Pryor. As for his family, I wish them some sense of comfort but they should know he died a hero and will be remembered by veterans as such.

Update (1/1/09): Judging by the amount of comments and their content, I would say that Mr. Pryor affected a great many people and touched lives everywhere. Even more reason to extend my gratitude and respect for his service and sacrifice.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

God Bless you Maj. John Pryor. God Bless your Family. A major loss for everyone. We salute you and your dedication. Thank you for your service. Rest in Peace.

James82 said...

We are proud of his service to our country and its efforts to make the world a better place. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Anonymous said...

I worked with Maj. Pryor at penn and heard many of his stories. TRULY an amazing human being. He risked his life to save many and save many is what he did. He once pulled a unexploded ordinance from a soldiers leg on his first tour, in the desert in a make shift OR to protect the medical unit. A very risky procedure... 1 in 6 detonate during removal. A true hero. Rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Pryor was a man who loved his family, loved his job and loved his country. I knew him for only a few days but am better for the time I spent learning from him. My condolences to his friends and family.

Cathy said...

As a fellow Eagle Scout I knew John when we worked on our First Aid Merit Badge...It was then I knew he would go on to GREAT things in his life. God bless his family as we pray for them....
Tim Hoff

Anonymous said...

It was an honor to have worked with John. I am a better person for having known him. He was never negative when the environment that we worked in was so negative and took a toll on everyone. I learned so much from him in the Trauma Bay at Penn but perhaps the most important lesson he taught me was with his own death, which reminds us just how fragile life really is.

CPT Victoria Bembry ANC said...

I served with Major Pryor in 2006 Abu Ghuraib, Iraq(344th CSH). He was easy to talk, had a great sense of humor and he always put a smile on my face. God Bless...

Anonymous said...

I met Dr. Pryor in February 6, 2007when my son was in the emergency room at HUP. Dr. Pryor saved my son's life and I am so grateful. I feel blessed to have known such a caring, selfless person. Dr. Pryor truly made this world a better place and he will be missed by so many. My heart and prayers are with his family.

Sam Heim said...

John Pryor saved my life in July 2005. I have never met a more caring and selfless person. I considered him a friend. My thoughts and prayers will always be with John and his family. God bless you John.

Sam Heim

Anonymous said...

Major Pryor is by far the kindest person I have ever met! I worked with him his entire career at HUP. He will be missed terribly. I learned so much from him.
Well said about how fragile life is. It is GREAT to hear from his patients as a further tribute to his devotion and life. RIP

Tammy said...

I went to medical school with John way back in the days, he was a very bright and hard working student. It puts a smile on my face to hear from people on these blogs what a great and selfless physician that John turned out to be. I knew he would always aspire to something higher.
Thank you for your service and may you now rest in peace.

John said...

John Pryor was one of my best friends growing up. His family was obviously influential on his altruism and selfless dedication. I'll never forget visiting his family on Christmas...His mother would make the biggest & best Christmas dinners anywhere.

Music was a big part of John's life. I remember thinking of him last year when I taught my son a guitar riff that John taught me while we were messing aroung with amps & instruments in his parent's family room as kids.

He has left so many positive impressions on so many people in his life. John & I last talked on the phone in August. We'd tracked each other down through a google search. I left him a voicemail and he called me back. We talked like 15 years hadn't passed since our last conversation. Humanity is better because of his existance.

Anonymous said...

Dr John Pryor saved my life, I was a patient of his at HUP after a car accident. I am grateful everyday for having Dr Pryor in my life. No words can describe how great of a man he was. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

TXK said...

John was my college roommate. The last time I spoke with him he told me that he had signed up to go to Iraq because our wounded soldiers were dying or losing their limbs because there weren't enough good trauma surgeons there to save them. The words American Hero are not strong enough to convey the man he was or the loss that his sacrifice will mean to his family. As devastated as I am, I can't stop smiling amidst the tears thinking about all the crazy antics John pulled in college. The late nights, the road trips, the impromtu sing-a-longs on his guitar. He was more than just a hero, he was a loving husband, a devoted father, a loyal son and a great friend. May his memory be a blessing.

Anonymous said...

I was a general surgery resident with John Pryor and knew he would do great things as he was a truly gifted man. He exuded kindness, had brains to burn, and had unparalleled dexterity. He also had a lovely family. In spite of all this he took nothing for granted and was amazingly, humble. The world was a better palce with John and he will be missed. May God bless him and his family.

Margaret M Stein said...

I just read the obiturary about this Heroic Trauma Surgeon. To enlist in the Army after 9/11 showed how brave and how selfless this great man is and will always be.
To the family, I am truly sorry for your lost, but know that your Father, Husband, Son & brother is a Hero.

God Bless you Major John Pryor M.D.

Anonymous said...

I attended a funeral of a patient that died who both Dr. Pryor, and many of the staff at HUP cared for during her hospitalization at HUP. It was really no surprise to see Dr. Pryor attend this patient's funeral. He was the kind of person who saw the importance of each person's life and the connection that we have with each other. I feel very grateful to have worked with Dr. Pryor even though it was so brief. I will be attending Dr. Pryor's funeral to honor his life, his spirit, and his humility. I hope his family realizes how important he was to all of us who came in contact with him. May his wife, children, parents, siblings find peace during this time.

Anonymous said...

I mobilized and deployed to Iraq with John this past December and took care of him when he came through the doors to the trauma resuscitation unit. Words cannot express the loss that I feel. But there is something that all of us can do. His family needs help. Here's the link and do what you can. http://www.drjohnpryor.com/index.html

Kevin Frost said...

John Pryor spoke at my school on September the 8th, 2008. He spoke about his time in Iraq and how similar it was to his time at Penn Teaching Hospital. The stories hit hard for our whole student body, and instantly we respected him. He seemed a great man, and God Bless Him and His Family.