On Christmas Day 2008, John Pryor, MD, FACS, was killed by mortar shrapnel while serving as a combat surgeon in Mosul, Iraq. A dedicated trauma and military surgeon, Dr. Pryor devoted much of his career after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. to serving his country.
Many stories have been written about Dr. Pryor since his death, including an article in the May 2009 Bulletin.* But perhaps no one is better able to tell his story than Dr. Pryor himself, and his brother Richard J. Pryor, MD, a retired emergency physician, has enabled him to do just that in a new book titled Alright, Let’s Call It a Draw: The Life of John Pryor. To write this unique book, Dr. Richard Pryor compiled his brother’s journal entries, his own memories, correspondence, and interviews to allow John Pryor to tell his own life’s story.
I have read the book and found it to be an honest, vivid, and heartbreaking story—particularly those sections that take place in the combat zone. For this month’s column, however, I would like to share this space with Kenneth Mattox, MD, FACS, who knew Dr. Pryor and who has written a wonderful review of this book. Dr. Mattox masterfully weaves into his review comments on trauma surgery as a career and how it affects our loved ones.
I hope that Dr. Mattox’s commentary will encourage all members of the American College of Surgeons—from medical students to retired surgeons—to read Alright, Let’s Call It a Draw and to think about the enormous sacrifices military physicians and nurses, as well as their families, make for our country.
*Regnier SJ. A combat surgeon remembered: MAJ John P. Pryor, MD, FACS. Bull Am Coll Surg. 2009;94(5):8-13.