Beaverton soldier was ‘bigger than life’

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of people gathered to pay their final respects to US Army Spc. John Pelham, a Beaverton resident who was killed in Afghanistan Feb. 12.

The body of Spc. John Pelham is taken into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Southwest 99th Avenue in Beaverton, Feb. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The body of Spc. John Pelham is taken into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Southwest 99th Avenue in Beaverton, Feb. 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

The 22-year-old who graduated from Sunset High School in 2010 was a classified intelligence officer. He was one of two soldiers killed Feb. 12 when his unit was hit by enemy small arms fire while on a mission in the Kapisa Province. His body was flown back to Portland on Friday.

During the service on Monday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Southwest 99th Avenue in Beaverton, he was described as someone who was bigger than life and had a passion to serve in the military.

Photos: The return of Spc. John Pelham

“It’s important that people understand the ultimate sacrifice that soldiers make and as a veteran of foreign wars we understand that more than the average person,” Doug London with the Hillsboro VFW told KOIN 6 News. “Therefore, as a tribute to John Pelham it’s important we be there and at least honor his service and sacrifice.”

Gov. Kitzhaber ordered flags to fly at half-staff throughout Oregon Monday to honor him.

Spc. John Pelham was killed in Afghanistan on Feb. 12. The Beaverton resident was laid to rest on Feb. 24, 2014. He was 22. (KOIN 6 News)
Spc. John Pelham was killed in Afghanistan on Feb. 12. The Beaverton resident was laid to rest on Feb. 24, 2014. He was 22. (KOIN 6 News)

“We are honored and grateful we can call him a hero and more importantly we call him our hero,” his father, Wendall Pelham, told KOIN 6 News.

The day was filled with tears and laughter, and the Pelham family said it’s their faith that keeps them strong.

A procession took him to the Willamette National Cemetery at 11800 SE Mt. Scott Blvd. in Portland, where he was laid to rest.

John Pelham is the 142nd military member with strong ties to Oregon that have died during service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He leaves behind a large family and a long-time fiance’.

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