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Sunset High honors fallen vet and former baseball player with the John Pelham Memorial Game

Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 10:47 PM PDT
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BEAVERTON Ore. (KPTV) – Baseball is a game that instills a lineup of life skills. The current crop of Sunset High Apollos and classes to come will always know the story of John Pelham.

“This is way bigger than today’s game,” said Sunset High School Baseball head coach John Barnes. “Baseball is bigger than them.”

Passion. Drive and ambition… John Pelham had it all.

“People say it gets better with time, it doesn’t get better, it gets different,” Said Wendall Pelham, John’s father.

Wendall and Dawn Pelham are proud Sunset alums from the late 1970s, their son, John Pelham, was a member of the Sunset class of 2010, wearing number 8 while patrolling leftfield for the Apollos. The Army Specialist lost his life fighting for our country during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in Feb. 2014. He was 22.

“I would hope it is a signal to and a beacon to all of us that freedom is not inexpensive,” said Wendall Pelham. “There is a major cost to it. We will only be as good as the legacies that we speak about and that we continue to push forward for our soldiers and our veterans.”

A motorcycle escort, an Army honor guard and bold American flags waving all around the stadium is a forever image to honor their heroic son.

“To see that in leftfield, on the leftfield pole where he played, it brings… it’s actually extremely humbling to know that your kid went from being a goof ball to a true national hero,” Wendall Pelham said. “The things he did right before he was killed qualify him to hero status.”

Pelham played one year at the College of the Redwoods before enlisting in the military.

“I got home from work one day and his car was in the driveway. College of the Redwoods is 8 hours away so as a Pop, I’m going, ‘hmm, why is my boys’ car in the driveway?’ That is when he said, ‘hey, look, I am going to join the Army. I feel that is where I am supposed to be. That’s my calling, that’s my mission.’”

The mission of the father is to serve as Civilian Advisor to the Chief of Staff of the Army on how to take care of surviving families. Wendell will be in D.C. next week, but he had to be here for the sixth year of the John Pelham Memorial Game.

“It allows us to move forward because as it will never get better, it does get different, and the different part is unbelievably cool. We have a foundation called, Live Like John, and through that we are able to take care of families,” Wendall Pelham said. “That’s what John’s legacy is there to do, and it helps us understand that as long as we don’t get in the corner and cry in the fetal position, all the time, every day, that we are doing the right things.”