Swan Dive
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John P. Pryor: Someone You Should Know

From MaryAnn comes word this morning that Major John P. Pryor was killed by enemy fire on Christmas.

Major Pryor was a surgeon, and not just any surgeon. He was the leader of the University of Pennsylvania's trauma team, arguably one of the best in the nation, and was a combat surgeon who operated with frontline units. On September 11, 2001 he raced to Ground Zero to volunteer his services. He also helped train people in disaster relief operations. He contributed opinion pieces to media outlets, and drew stark parallels between urban trauma units and combat trauma.

From the Washington Post:

In the swirl of screams and moving figures, my mind drifted to my recent experience in Iraq as an Army surgeon. There we dealt regularly with "mascals," or mass-casualty situations. In Iraq, ironically, I found myself drawing on my experience as a civilian trauma surgeon each time mascals would overrun the combat hospital. As nine or 10 patients from a firefight rolled in, I sometimes caught myself saying "just like another Friday night in West Philadelphia.

The wounds and nationalities of the patients are different, but the feelings of helplessness, despair and loss are the same. In Iraq, soldiers die for freedom, for honor, for their country and for their buddies. Here in Philadelphia, they die without honor, without purpose, for no country, for no one."

If you followed trauma medicine, or medical disaster response, you knew the name and the thoughts, if not the man.

Despite what he acknowledged in an undated document left with family was the high personal cost of going to serve, for he felt that family and others did not fully support his decision, he went anyway as he felt it was the right thing to do. This time, he was with the 1st Medical Detachment, Forward Surgical Team in Mosul, Iraq when killed by shrapnel from a mortar round.

Godspeed Dr. Pryor. You did indeed do more than a little good, and at several somewheres. You saved lives where otherwise they would be lost. You reminded all that we do not live in a world all our own. You taught, you inspired, you led -- a legacy that will live on and grow. May you indeed have the firgiveness from family and colleagues you sought. For what it is worth, you have my thanks for all that you did at home and in combat.

LW

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