RIP: John P. Prior – Heroic Healer and writer

Major John P. Prior, 42,  from Philadelphia, was killed on Christmas day in Iraq by enemy fire. He leaves behind a wife and three children. He is a medical hero. Before he went to Iraq with the Army Reserves – he was the the dedicated leader of the University of Pennsylvania trauma team. He wrote elequently about about his experiences in both Baghdad and Philadelphia. I found one of his stories here.

Here are some quotes:

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.

More young men are killed each day on the streets of America than on the worst days of carnage and loss in Iraq. There is a war at home raging every day, filling our trauma centers with so many wounded children that it sometimes makes Baghdad seem like a quiet city in Iowa.

He also writes about the “Lex Street Massacre” where 10 people were lined up against a wall and shot execution style in Philadelphia.  It was not covered in the newspapers because of our “double standard” and “triage of campassion and empathy” so “the war on the streets of America continues unabated”.

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Filed under Iraq, Philadelphia, RIP

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