State flags at half-staff in his native New York. A full military burial in Cherry Hill, complete with honor guard and rifle salute. Thousands of e-mails from around the world, from Norway to South Africa.

John P. Pryor would have hated it.

To the beloved leader of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania's trauma team - killed in Iraq by a mortar shell on Christmas Day - all military casualties were equal, according to his brother.

"He would think this is profoundly unfair," Richard Pryor said Wednesday, driving to Dover Air Force Base to retrieve his brother's body from the military morgue. "He'd be really upset that he's getting all this attention when most troops don't get any."

Dr. Pryor, 42, a major in the U.S. Army Reserve, is believed to be the first HUP physician killed in the line of duty since World War II. A Moorestown resident, he was deployed Dec. 6 on his second Iraq tour.

Many of his colleagues are still in a state of shock, said Mary Kate Fitzpatrick, clinical director of nursing operations and a close friend. Penn crisis counselors have been on site since Friday.

"It's been surreal," said Fitzpatrick, 44, whose husband, Jeffrey Purcell, is serving in Iraq. "John was a life force that affected every angle of this hospital. He showed us all what we wanted to be.

"He took a humanistic approach to all his patients. He cried with them. Every loss was like a hole in his heart . . . He didn't have much tolerance for the bureaucracy and politics. It was all about making it happen for the patients."

When Dr. Pryor's wife, Carmela Calvo, a pediatrician, went into labor with their second child, son Francis, now 8, he was on call at another hospital due to a scheduling error. He barely made the birth; then came back the next morning and slept on the floor.

"If you want John back from the grave, just put him on the call schedule," said Richard Pryor, 41, a physician in Delmar, N.Y., near Albany. "His wife is a saint. Any other woman on this planet would have left him."

Beyond his patients, Dr. Pryor was the ultimate "fixer" at HUP, whose staff he joined in 1999.

"Everything from scheduling trouble in radiology to leaking pipes in the trauma bay, he got it fixed somehow," said Dan Holena, 35, who trained under Pryor for 18 months. "He wrote everything down in this ratty little notebook."

Dr. Pryor was a serious techie, too. A die-hard "Mac maverick" in HUP's PC world, he devised a way to combine both systems.

"It drove our IT people crazy, but after he got it up and running, they were all up here in his office," said C. William Schwab, chief of the division of trauma and critical care surgery.

Slightly lower on the intellectual scale, Dr. Pryor was a fan of The Simpsons and liked to trade Homer Simpson quotes with fellow aficionado Holena. He loved rock music - Phish, Barenaked Ladies, Indigo Girls - and jammed with colleagues on an acoustic guitar.

Music was included in the detailed funeral plans he had made before his first deployment, his brother said.

His CD mix will be played at the public wake: Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. at the Moorestown Memorial Home, 334 Chester Ave., Moorestown.

The family won't follow all Dr. Pryor's instructions, however, according to Richard Pryor.

With such a large outpouring of grief, his Funeral Mass will be said at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul on Logan Circle in Philadelphia instead of at a community church in Moorestown. Services are set for 10 a.m. Monday.

On that day, flags on New York state government buildings will be flown at half-staff, per order of Gov. David Paterson.

Dr. Pryor desired a nonmilitary funeral and burial because "he wanted to minimize the reminder" of his decision to return to Iraq, despite passionate pleas from colleagues, friends and family, Richard Pryor said.

After "a lot emphasis on the military side," the family agreed to a compromise that includes a full military burial, with several military speakers. "People want to honor him, and it's important to let them," Richard Pryor said. "We can't just ignore the other aspect of his life."

Dr. Pryor will be buried in a private service at Colestown Cemetery in Cherry Hill instead of in his family plot in Yonkers, N.Y., his father's hometown, Richard Pryor said. Dr. Pryor's wife plans to stay in Moorestown, and she wants the gravesite to be easily accessible for their children - Danielle, 10, Francis, 8, and John Jr., 4.

To assist the family, donations to the Fund for Dr. John Pryor may be sent to UPHS, Dr. John Pryor Fund, Suite 750, 3535 Market St., Philadelphia 19104-3309.

A Web site,, has been established by the family to share thoughts and memories.

Contact staff writer Gail Shister at 215-854-5626 or