Community gathers to honor Beaverton soldier killed in Afghanistan

BEAVERTON, Ore. – A Beaverton man killed in action in Afghanistan will be buried Monday.

John Alexander Pelham was 22 years old and a graduate of Sunset High School. He was in his second tour of duty. Pelham is one of six children. He was not married and did not have any children.

At 7am Monday, the parking lot was already filling up with friends and family. A procession will leave the church at 12:45pm and head down Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway to Willamette National Cemetery on Mount Scott in Southeast Portland. Crowds are expected to line the procession route. The funeral is open to the public and will be held at the Church of Latter Day Saints in Beaverton at 10am.

John’s father, Wendall Pelham, describes him as a man on a mission who was pursuing what he knew he was meant to be doing.

“He was very comfortable with who he was and what his life was and what his mission was,” said Pelham.

The fallen soldier’s uncle and grandfather both served in the military and his father says that history inspired his son.

“I believe that true warriors know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it and they do it because they can and because they have a heart for it,” said Pelham.

The 22-year-old discovered that heart when he was younger and spent six months in the "Oregon Youth Challenge” program, which is run by the Oregon National Guard, where he excelled.

“He got there and he was a model soldier and a model student… that proved to him that he made the correct choice,” Pelham said.

John Pelham went on to play baseball in high school and college, but he decided the military was his true calling. He worked as an intelligence analyst in the Army, but the details of his work are classified.

The Department of Defense said Pelham died of injuries from small arms fire in the Kapisa Province.