Queens-based combat medic on 2nd Iraq tour killed Christmas Day

How do we thank a hero………………..

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2008/12/26/2008-12-26_queensbased_combat_medic_on_2nd_iraq_tou.html

BY RICH SCHAPIRO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Saturday, December 27th 2008, 12:22 AM

A New York-born trauma doctor who “felt obligated” to use his expertise to treat American soldiers in Iraq was killed in a Christmas Day mortar attack, officials said Friday.

Maj. John Pryor, 42, of Moorestown, N.J., was in his living quarters at the Forward Operating Base Marez near Mosul when the mortar round struck nearby.

“He knew there were American soldiers being injured and some of the doctors didn’t have the training and education he had,” Pryor’s brother, Richard, told the Daily News Friday.

“He felt obligated to contribute. He was a genuine American hero.”

Pryor deployed Dec. 6 for his second tour of duty in Iraq as a combat medic with the Army’s 1st Medical Detachment, based in Fort Totten, Queens.

The father of three called his wife every morning, but on Christmas Day Carmela Pryor received no call, relatives said.

When she turned on the news, she saw there was an attack in Mosul, injuring an American.

“She felt that he’s obviously taking care of him and is busy performing surgery,” Richard Pryor, 41, said. “But she became increasingly concerned when he didn’t call [later in the day].”

The grim news came hours later, devastating Pryor’s wife and the couple’s three children, Danielle, 10, Frankie, 8 and John Jr., 4.

Pryor, born in Mount Vernon, moved to Clifton Park when he was 8.

After graduating from medical school at the State University of New York in Buffalo in 1999, he joined the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where his colleagues considered him a “star.”

“John was a man who truly believed that service to others was his calling,” said Dr. William Schwab, chief of trauma surgery and critical care at the Philadelphia hospital. “Whether it was volunteering at Ground Zero on 9/11 or with the Army, or serving the people of the community, that was what he was about.”

Schwab said Pryor studied Arabic so he could make the injured Iraqi civilians he treated, especially the young victims, feel at ease.

Pryor, the director of the hospital’s trauma program, wrote of his experiences as a surgeon confronting violence in Iraq and inner-city Philadelphia in articles published in The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post.

“As a trauma surgeon, every death I have is painful; every one takes a little out of me,” he wrote in a 2006 article in the Inquirer. “Losing these kids here in Iraq rips a hole through my soul so large that it’s hard for me to continue breathing.

“If I could say something to this Marine’s parents, it would be this: I am so sorry that you have lost your son. We, more than almost everyone else, know he was a true American hero.”

rschapiro@nydailynews.com

With Stephanie Gaskell and News Wire Services

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