Today’s news:

Fort Totten soldier killed on Christmas

A Fort Totten−based doctor on his second tour of duty in Iraq died Christmas Day from wounds he suffered after mortar rounds were fired into his camp, the U.S. Defense Department said Friday.

Maj. John Pryor, 42, of Moorestown, N.J., was a medic with the 1st Medical Detachment based at the Bayside installation.

Pryor died Dec. 25 in Mosul, Iraq, after a mortar round went off near his living quarters, according to the Defense Department.

The department said the incident that killed Pryor was under investigation.

The Defense Department offered no other details and Fort Totten could not be reached for comment.

But the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, near Pryor’s home, said he was a surgeon with the facility who offered his expertise to the U.S. Army.

The hospital said in a statement that Pryor was on his second tour in Iraq when he died.

“John’s sudden death while serving as a physician on the battlefield is a very personal loss for the many of us who have worked side by side with him ... and all the more stark coming unexpectedly in this holiday season,” the statement read.

It said Pryor “was a magical man, with boundless energy and goodness. At his core were many great values, but his passion for service to others was greatest. He gave back something to each and every one of us every day.”

Pryor started at the hospital in 1999 after completing his surgical training at SUNY Buffalo, the hospital said. He joined the faculty of the surgery department and served as the trauma program director for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

“He was a surgeon who just gave 100 percent commitment to his career,” his brother, Richard Pryor, told the Newark Star−Ledger. “He was always working, trying to be the best surgeon he could. He helped perfect strangers who required emergency care, victims of trauma. He was also a compassionate, loving, doting father.”

Before beginning his second tour, Pryor was stationed at a combat support hospital for the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, according to the Star−Ledger.

Pryor is survived by his wife, Carmela Calvo; daughter Danielle; sons Francis and John, Jr.; brother Richard Pryor; and parents Richard and Victoria Pryor.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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