Major John P. Pryor, M.D., U.S. Army, Killed in Iraq

I was wide awake this morning at 0230. As is normal, I rolled over and blindly reached for my iPhone, figuring that if I couldn’t sleep, I would at least make good use of my sleeplessness and catch up on my RSS feed reading.

The moment I read the post title, which simply said something about a New Jersey trauma surgeon dying in Iraq, I knew I would be in mourning when I was fully awake. I hadn’t even read his name and my intuition was going off.

From HUP’s website:

Dr. Pryor is a trauma-critical care surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He completed medical school and general surgery training at the University of Buffalo, in Buffalo New York, and completed fellowship training in trauma surgery and critical care at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently the Trauma Program Director for the Trauma Center at Penn, and the Director of the Office of Life Support education for the Division of Trauma. Dr. Pryor is also a Major in the United States Army Reserve Medical Corps. He served two active duty tours as the trauma surgeon for the 344th Combat Support Hospital in Abu Ghraib Iraq during 2006, and then with the 1st Forward Surgical Team (FST), in 2008.

Pryor-1
John P. Pryor, M.D.
Trauma and Surgical Critical Care

Major John P. Pryor, M.D. was a prominent trauma surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. MAJ Pryor, while serving in Iraq, died on Christmas Day during a mortar attack.

Dr. Pryor, I would realize later, was a guest lecturer for my Acute Care NP program, and spent time with us in the lab teaching central lines and chest tubes. It was unnerving to find photos of Dr. Pryor among those I took during my time at Penn, finally understanding why the post title, read in the middle of the night, struck a chord.

Lab 2003 001
Invasive Procedure Lab with Dr. Pryor
UPenn, Adult Acute Care NP class of 2004

Lab 2003 020-1
Dr. Pryor (left)
Me (center) with hands raised
after successful chest tube placement


Although I did not know Dr. Pryor personally, his confidence in the classroom and his approachability made the sections he taught some of my favorites. His death is a loss for the students he taught, the patients he treated, the staff he worked with, and the soldiers he served with.

My thoughts go out to his family, Army unit and professional colleagues.
Story at MSNBC.com here.
Story at MyFox Philadelphia with video here.

  1. It’s strange how others effect our lives even when we don’t realize they are doing it. I’m sorry that he was killed over there but I’m sure that he was able to help a lot of people while he served.

  2. It’s strange how others effect our lives even when we don’t realize they are doing it. I’m sorry that he was killed over there but I’m sure that he was able to help a lot of people while he served.

  3. He was a special surgeon and colleague. Life will not be the same without him. He was sent from above. One like no other. We at Penn are proud of him and will miss him greatly as he is one of a kind.

  4. He was a special surgeon and colleague. Life will not be the same without him. He was sent from above. One like no other. We at Penn are proud of him and will miss him greatly as he is one of a kind.

  5. John was a special person beyond his role as a Trauma surgeon. I knew John in medical school. He strived to serve persons in need. John grew up in privilege, but you would never know. His heart was full of compassion. I’m sure he went to Iraq to help those there and to hone is skill to help us at home. I am truly sad at his lost. My heart felt condolences to his children and to his wife Camellia, he was a better person then most. I hope his children will understand that though the questions of why he was there remains, the fact that he was, is a testimony to his genuine heart. He is with our father now, and understands all, but I can’t help but weep for our loss. There are many who will never know how truly gifted he was and how fortunate we all are that he was among us. I know he looks down on us now and understand all. I only know that I am deeply saddened by the loss of one of our great physicians. I personally will endeavor to make my self worth of calling him friend.

  6. John was a special person beyond his role as a Trauma surgeon. I knew John in medical school. He strived to serve persons in need. John grew up in privilege, but you would never know. His heart was full of compassion. I’m sure he went to Iraq to help those there and to hone is skill to help us at home. I am truly sad at his lost. My heart felt condolences to his children and to his wife Camellia, he was a better person then most. I hope his children will understand that though the questions of why he was there remains, the fact that he was, is a testimony to his genuine heart. He is with our father now, and understands all, but I can’t help but weep for our loss. There are many who will never know how truly gifted he was and how fortunate we all are that he was among us. I know he looks down on us now and understand all. I only know that I am deeply saddened by the loss of one of our great physicians. I personally will endeavor to make my self worth of calling him friend.

  7. Thank you all for the comments thus far. Last night I was lucky to spend night shift with one of the ER flight physicians I cherish the most. We got caught up on our lives from the past year and as his next deployment is just days away, the time seemed that much more important as Dr. Pryor was never far from my thoughts.

    To my blog friends, thanks for the notes. To Dr. McClain, Marie and especially you, someonetc, my heart goes out to each of you. I, unfortunately, can almost imagine the extent of your loss as my being part of the Army family makes it so.

    someoneetc—-keep your head down and know how much I appreciate your service.

  8. Thank you all for the comments thus far. Last night I was lucky to spend night shift with one of the ER flight physicians I cherish the most. We got caught up on our lives from the past year and as his next deployment is just days away, the time seemed that much more important as Dr. Pryor was never far from my thoughts.

    To my blog friends, thanks for the notes. To Dr. McClain, Marie and especially you, someonetc, my heart goes out to each of you. I, unfortunately, can almost imagine the extent of your loss as my being part of the Army family makes it so.

    someoneetc—-keep your head down and know how much I appreciate your service.

  9. Emily,
    Thanks for posting this. I’m an RN in the SICU where Dr Pryor worked, and just finished my ACNP program at Penn, where he again taught in the skills lab. One of the rotations I did was on the Trauma service, and worked with JP even more closely on the floors and in the OR. He was, without a doubt, a mentor and teacher to us all, and we’re all still trying to process the loss.

    Someonect: Thank you for posting, as well. I send my thoughts and prayers to you and your coworkers, since I know you must be mourning as much as we are here in Philadelphia.

  10. Emily,
    Thanks for posting this. I’m an RN in the SICU where Dr Pryor worked, and just finished my ACNP program at Penn, where he again taught in the skills lab. One of the rotations I did was on the Trauma service, and worked with JP even more closely on the floors and in the OR. He was, without a doubt, a mentor and teacher to us all, and we’re all still trying to process the loss.

    Someonect: Thank you for posting, as well. I send my thoughts and prayers to you and your coworkers, since I know you must be mourning as much as we are here in Philadelphia.

  11. Emily,
    I don’t know you but thank you so much for putting up this blog. I you can email me these photos I would be in your debt. Try to spread the word that we will have more information about services and such at:

    drjohnpryor.com

    I hope to link your blog to this site if it is okay with you.
    Thank you so very much.
    Rich Pryor (John’s brother)

  12. Emily,
    I don’t know you but thank you so much for putting up this blog. I you can email me these photos I would be in your debt. Try to spread the word that we will have more information about services and such at:

    drjohnpryor.com

    I hope to link your blog to this site if it is okay with you.
    Thank you so very much.
    Rich Pryor (John’s brother)

  13. Emily, although I too do not know you, thank you for starting this site. I went through elementary, middle and high school w/ John. I’ve talked to a few of my friends in the last day and we all remember John in a very fond way. He was a great guy to be around. It saddens me that he had to die this way but as I have read in the local paper, it’s something he felt very strong about.

    Rich, my friends and I will look at the drjohnpryor.com website for more information on a memorial service. I read in the Times Union that you too are a hospital physician. I see you both have the desire to help people.

    Please let your sister-in-law know how sorry everyone is for her sudden and tragic loss. I may not have talked w/ him for over 20 years but I can still see his smiling face!

    Kelly

  14. Emily, although I too do not know you, thank you for starting this site. I went through elementary, middle and high school w/ John. I’ve talked to a few of my friends in the last day and we all remember John in a very fond way. He was a great guy to be around. It saddens me that he had to die this way but as I have read in the local paper, it’s something he felt very strong about.

    Rich, my friends and I will look at the drjohnpryor.com website for more information on a memorial service. I read in the Times Union that you too are a hospital physician. I see you both have the desire to help people.

    Please let your sister-in-law know how sorry everyone is for her sudden and tragic loss. I may not have talked w/ him for over 20 years but I can still see his smiling face!

    Kelly

  15. John Pryor- truly an exceptional human being. This is such a tragedy. I am in such denial! My mind can not grasp the concept that he is gone. How could I have taken for granted that he would always be here. It is hard to believe that one person possessed so much goodness- but he did.
    Frank- you must have a remarkable family to have a brother like this. Your family, carmella, danielle, frankie, and John John are in my thoughts all the time.
    someonetc-thanks

  16. John Pryor- truly an exceptional human being. This is such a tragedy. I am in such denial! My mind can not grasp the concept that he is gone. How could I have taken for granted that he would always be here. It is hard to believe that one person possessed so much goodness- but he did.
    Frank- you must have a remarkable family to have a brother like this. Your family, carmella, danielle, frankie, and John John are in my thoughts all the time.
    someonetc-thanks

  17. Maj. Pryor (Dr.) was a great, compassionate man. I served with him in Iraq 05-06 at Abu Ghraib. It did not matter who he cared for, he gave it his all. I saw him on days when he was happy and days when things got rough. Maj Pryor taught me so much about being a medic and a person. He will be greatly missed. We have lost a true hero.

  18. Maj. Pryor (Dr.) was a great, compassionate man. I served with him in Iraq 05-06 at Abu Ghraib. It did not matter who he cared for, he gave it his all. I saw him on days when he was happy and days when things got rough. Maj Pryor taught me so much about being a medic and a person. He will be greatly missed. We have lost a true hero.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. I had the honor of serving with Dr Pryor during his first deployment. I have never met a finer human being. When I heard the news I was praying that it was some sort of nightmare. I will never forget him as he was a spcial person and a fine soldier. God Bless his family.

  22. I had the honor of serving with Dr Pryor during his first deployment. I have never met a finer human being. When I heard the news I was praying that it was some sort of nightmare. I will never forget him as he was a spcial person and a fine soldier. God Bless his family.

  23. I am a nurse in the SICU and have worked with John since he first came to HUP. He was an amazing person and a compassionate and skilled surgeon. He never gave up on a patient and always had time for the family members. Since starting a family on my own in the recent years, I would ask him for advice on how to handle issues that arise with having 3 kids …he always smiled and laughed, then gave most of the credit to his wife for how great his kids are and said she did most of the work. No matter how bad my day was, it wasn’t so bad, because I would see my buddy John.
    Words cannot describe the sorrow I feel. My heart goes out to his wife and children and his family for their loss. He lived for helping others and the lives of the people he has touched are too many to be counted.
    He told me he had joined the army to help the kids over there. They were fighting for us and he wanted to do what he can to help them return home. He was a skilled surgeon, he needed to help them.
    John, we will miss you.

  24. I am a nurse in the SICU and have worked with John since he first came to HUP. He was an amazing person and a compassionate and skilled surgeon. He never gave up on a patient and always had time for the family members. Since starting a family on my own in the recent years, I would ask him for advice on how to handle issues that arise with having 3 kids …he always smiled and laughed, then gave most of the credit to his wife for how great his kids are and said she did most of the work. No matter how bad my day was, it wasn’t so bad, because I would see my buddy John.
    Words cannot describe the sorrow I feel. My heart goes out to his wife and children and his family for their loss. He lived for helping others and the lives of the people he has touched are too many to be counted.
    He told me he had joined the army to help the kids over there. They were fighting for us and he wanted to do what he can to help them return home. He was a skilled surgeon, he needed to help them.
    John, we will miss you.

  25. I have worked with John for almost 7 years now in the Trauma/SICU at HUP. Words cannot describe the loss we feel at this time. The tone of the unit is palpable. He is everywhere. He is in all of us because he always took the time to teach and mentor. John had a special gift with the patients and families. He made you want to be a better person. The words “no” never passed his lips. He would come into any room, at any time and help you.
    I will miss him walking into the unit, silly smile, carrying his cup of coffee with his sneakers on – just out of the OR or Trauma bay with a left over mask or surgical hat ready for a “high five”.
    God Bless you John Paul Pryor. God Bless your family and God Bless all our men and women who continue to protect us all.
    Sara

  26. I have worked with John for almost 7 years now in the Trauma/SICU at HUP. Words cannot describe the loss we feel at this time. The tone of the unit is palpable. He is everywhere. He is in all of us because he always took the time to teach and mentor. John had a special gift with the patients and families. He made you want to be a better person. The words “no” never passed his lips. He would come into any room, at any time and help you.
    I will miss him walking into the unit, silly smile, carrying his cup of coffee with his sneakers on – just out of the OR or Trauma bay with a left over mask or surgical hat ready for a “high five”.
    God Bless you John Paul Pryor. God Bless your family and God Bless all our men and women who continue to protect us all.
    Sara

  27. I heard on NPR tonight that a Trauma Surgeon from Philly died. I knew it was John….. John was my roomate in Medical School and I had just recently realized he was at UOP and tried to email him… I am devastated because John had wanted to serve his country as he had told me in those days. I have so much to say but I will pray for him and Camellia his wife . This was an incredible human being . We love you and will miss you very much, John.

  28. I heard on NPR tonight that a Trauma Surgeon from Philly died. I knew it was John….. John was my roomate in Medical School and I had just recently realized he was at UOP and tried to email him… I am devastated because John had wanted to serve his country as he had told me in those days. I have so much to say but I will pray for him and Camellia his wife . This was an incredible human being . We love you and will miss you very much, John.

  29. John,
    though I never knew you, I personally appreciate your conviction and ultimate contribution to not only your country, but to humankind and medicine. I wish I did know you…

  30. John,
    though I never knew you, I personally appreciate your conviction and ultimate contribution to not only your country, but to humankind and medicine. I wish I did know you…

  31. I had the privilege of working as a nuse in the SICU with John many years ago.
    I remember, in no specific order 1)great compassion for patients & families 2)a calming presence during chaos 3)a great teacher 4)loved to laugh 5)extremely approachable 6)I felt proud to be on his team.
    He was a true hero in life & death.
    My prayers are with his family, friends, friends & colleagues at Penn.

  32. I had the privilege of working as a nuse in the SICU with John many years ago.
    I remember, in no specific order 1)great compassion for patients & families 2)a calming presence during chaos 3)a great teacher 4)loved to laugh 5)extremely approachable 6)I felt proud to be on his team.
    He was a true hero in life & death.
    My prayers are with his family, friends, friends & colleagues at Penn.

  33. I would like to thank everyone for their kind comments and would like to express my heart felt sorrow to Dr. Rich Pryor (MAJ Pryor’s Brother), and his family as well. Dr. Pryor—thank you for the comments here. I simply wish there was more we could do.

  34. I would like to thank everyone for their kind comments and would like to express my heart felt sorrow to Dr. Rich Pryor (MAJ Pryor’s Brother), and his family as well. Dr. Pryor—thank you for the comments here. I simply wish there was more we could do.

  35. I have never met Dr. John Pryor, but I feel compelled to leave a note to Family and Friends.
    This world has lost a truely Great One. I know His Love and Compassion will live on at HUP.
    God Bless all of You there.

  36. I have never met Dr. John Pryor, but I feel compelled to leave a note to Family and Friends.
    This world has lost a truely Great One. I know His Love and Compassion will live on at HUP.
    God Bless all of You there.

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