PORTLAND — A woman walking on the beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts found a memorial bracelet in the sand that was engraved with the name of a Portland soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2014.
Liz Maloney-Triplett returned the bracelet to John A. Pelham's family after an internet search turned up his name in a recent story that was published by KATU-TV in Portland to commemorate Veteran's Day, the station reported.
Maloney-Triplett contacted KATU to find out how to reach the family of John Pelham, whose name was on the bracelet, and the station connected them.
Now the Gold Star family is wondering where the bracelet came from, who owned it and how it wound up in Cape Cod.
"When Liz called and started explaining what had happened ... I affectionately look up and go, 'Now, you're just showing off,'" said John's father, Wendall Pelham. "I believe John wanted that bracelet found. I believe he would like us to do everything we possibly can to recognize Liz for her listening, if you will."
The family estimates there are about 30 of the bracelets made. They are typically engraved with the soldier's name and information and given to members of the fallen soldier's battalion.
The bracelet Maloney-Triplett found, though, is different in width, wording and font — deepening the mystery.
Maloney-Triplett said she's honored to have found the bracelet and given Pelham's family another reminder of him.
"This is the closest to a message in a bottle I've ever gotten, but in a weird way, I think it was John sending a message, 'Hey, come find me,'" she said. "I've never met him, never heard of the name, honestly, you know, I just -- something said, 'Go to the beach.'"
Pelham served as intelligence analyst with the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Special Forces Group of the U.S. Army.
Pelham, who graduated from Sunset High School, was 22 when he died in 2014 in Afghanistan's Kapisa Province of injuries from small arms fire.
His father spoke to KATU about being a Gold Star family for a Nov. 11 story, according to the station.