Cooper Trauma Surgeon Receives Prestigious Award at 37th EAST Annual Scientific Assembly

Pictured at the award ceremony: (left to right) Cooper Trauma Surgeon Dr. Kirby Gross (previous award winner in 2017); Trauma surgeon Dr. Kyle Remick, a friend and former colleague of the late Dr. John Pryor; U.S. Navy Midshipmen Jon Pryor, Jr, who helped present the award in recognition of his late father; and Cooper Trauma Surgeon Dr. John Chovanes, award winner.

Cooper University Health Care trauma surgeon John Chovanes, DO, FACS, USA, was the recipient of the prestigious John P. Pryor, MD Distinguished Service Award in Military Casualty Care, presented at the 37th Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) Annual Scientific Assembly last week in Orlando, Florida. The award recognizes EAST members who have distinguished themselves in the field of military casualty care.

Dr. Chovanes, a surgeon in the Department of Surgery in the Division of Trauma, Acute Care Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care of Cooper, is a Colonel in the United States Army Reserve Medical Corp. He is also the founding medical director of Cooper’s Section of Military, Diplomatic, and Field Affairs that provides intense clinical trauma training for our nation’s elite armed services and diplomatic special operations forces.

“We are incredibly proud of Dr. Chovanes and his accomplishments both here at Cooper and around the world,” said John M. Porter, MD, head of the Division of Trauma Surgery and director for the Center for Trauma Services at Cooper. “His dedication and passion for caring for critically injured patients and sharing his knowledge with others has resulted in thousands upon thousands of saved lives.”

The John P. Pryor, MD Distinguished Service Award in Military Casualty Care, presented annually since 2012, is named after a well-known trauma surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania who was killed in the line of duty on December 25, 2008, while serving in Iraq. Dr. Chovanes knew Dr. Pryor well, having met him at Ground Zero in New York City on 9/11 and subsequently training under Pryor at Penn during his surgical fellowship. Pryor served as the inspiration for Dr. Chovanes enlistment into the Army Reserve Medical Corps. Everyone was devastated by the loss of the married father of three young children, and Dr. Chovanes remained close to the Pryor family following his death.

Dr. Pryor’s widow, Dr. Carmela Calvo, and her son US Navy Midshipmen Jon Pryor, Jr travelled to Orlando to present Dr. Chovanes with this year’s award. John Pryor Jr. was in the honor guard that marched to the stage with Dr. Chovanes during the award presentation.

“Dr. John Pryor was a mentor, a colleague, and a friend. He was inspirational to so many of us. I am deeply honored to receive this award, particularly surrounded by his family, and to carry on his legacy in the field of military medicine,” said Dr. Chovanes.

Since joining the Army Reserves in 2001, Dr. Chovanes has completed six tours of duty in support of a variety of U.S. military operations. He served as a military trauma surgeon with the 325th Combat Support Hospital on Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq, in 2007. He has served as both a trauma surgeon and the Deputy Commander of Clinical Services at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khowst, Afghanistan, in both 2010 and 2012.

In 2016, Dr. Chovanes was a trauma surgeon at Camp Manion with the 948th Forward Surgical Team during the Third Battle of Fallujah. Dr. Chovanes has received the Army Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service after successfully removing an unexploded rifle-propelled grenade from a U.S. Soldier. He also received the U.S. Army Soldier’s Medal for Heroism after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks for providing field surgical care for a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officer trapped in the collapsed basement of the World Trade Center.

About Cooper University Health Care’s Section of Military, Diplomatic, and Field Surgical Affairs

Cooper serves as the only Level I Trauma Center for all of southern New Jersey and is one of the busiest trauma centers in the region. Due to its high-volume trauma center and expertise in surgery and critical care, Cooper is the only hospital in the United States that has trained elite medical providers from every military branch; multiple local, state, and federal government agencies; and international partners.

In 2019, Cooper became the first hospital in the nation to establish the AMCT3 program and later that year became one of only three hospitals nation to provide specialized medical training to active duty and reserve personnel from all branches of the U.S. military as part of the SMART (Strategic Medical Asset Readiness Training) initiative. For more information visit


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