Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Penn surgeon killed in Iraq

This is a sobering reminder that not everyone gets to come home.

Penn surgeon killed in Iraq

Absolute heart-breaker of a story tonight, guys. I've had an opportunity this year to write about some brave men and women who have survived war in one form or another. Well, this is a sobering reminder that not everyone gets to come home.

John Pryor called home every day.

It didn't matter if rockets were exploding in the sky above him, or if the streets of Iraq ran red with blood. He always took a few minutes to let his wife, Carmela Calvo, hear his reassuring voice.

On Christmas Day, Calvo's phone went silent.

She tried to allay her fears when she read about an unidentified U.S. soldier who had been killed near Mosul. Pryor, an esteemed trauma/critical-care surgeon at the University of Pennyslvania, must've been working on the poor solider, Calvo told herself.

She kept believing that scenario until a few military officials arrived at her Moorestown, N.J., home and delivered the gut-wrenching news: Pryor, 42, a trauma surgeon with the 1st Forward Surgical Team, had been killed by an enemy mortar round.

The mortar round had apparently been blindly fired at the Mosul Air Base and landed in a trailer where Pryror was sleeping, not long after he got back from Christmas Mass, said his brother, Richard Pryor. "This was not an assault or a barrage," he said. "Someone fired a single, sporadic blind shot to see what it would hit ... and it hit my brother."

In a mere instant, Pryor's family lost a loving son, husband, brother and father of three. And both Philadelphia and Iraq lost a widely-admired doctor who treated his career as a calling and was devoted to helping people, regardless of their race, ethnicity or social status.

I'll post the rest of the story up tomorrow. Meanwhile, keep John Pryor's family in your thoughts.

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