FRANKLIN — Pfc. Brian Gorham died a soldier, but he was also remembered at his funeral as a friend, a brother and a Christian.
More than 100 people attended the funeral Tuesday at Crafton Funeral Home for Gorham, 21, who died Dec. 31 from wounds he suffered when his Humvee rolled over a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
The explosion occurred Dec. 13. Gorham, a native of Woodburn, was serving in the Army, assigned to Company Delta, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, stationed in Vicenza, Italy.
At the funeral home, chairs were set up in a second room for the overflow crowd that came to pay final respects.
Jack Wright, a Sunday school teacher and leader of “Kids for Christ,” a youth program at Woodburn Baptist Church, was the main speaker at Tuesday’s ceremony.
Wright fondly recalled the many Sundays that he drove a van carrying Brian and other kids to church, with Brian often asking Wright to try to jump the railroad tracks on the way there.
He also remembered seeing Brian play football with his friends prior to church on many occasions, an enthusiasm he would carry later when he played football at Drakes Creek Middle School.
By the time Gorham joined the Army JROTC at Greenwood High School, he attended services in his uniform.
“Brian, his brother Henry and his sister Brandie were very enjoyable to have as part of our van riding group,” Wright said. “As Brian grew older, he did not ride in the van or attend church quite as often, but he knew Woodburn Baptist was always a place that he would be loved and accepted.”
In the JROTC, Gorham was one of the first graduates of Greenwood’s leadership academy.
During the service, a microphone was passed around the chapel to allow those in attendance to recall their favorite memories of Brian.
Most who spoke said they considered Brian a close friend.
“I think Brian led the best life he possibly could,” said Brian’s younger brother, Henry. “I’ll always look up to my big brother.”
Dustin Cummins, one of Brian’s closest friends, read a poem dedicated to his memory, a poem written four days after Brian’s death.
“Brian taught me in my life a lot of things - respect, dignity, pride, how to stand your ground,” Cummins said. “I know Brian had a handful of best friends, but he will always be my best friend. He was a brother to all of us.”
Cummins will leave Woodburn on April 3 to join the Navy.
Brian’s parents, Shirley and Toney Gorham, were presented with the medals Brian had earned during his service.
Those medals, presented by Maj. Gen. Jeff Schloesser of the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, included the Bronze Star for exemplary service; the Purple Heart, given to soldiers wounded or killed in action; the Good Conduct Medal; and the NATO Badge.
The procession from the funeral home to Hillsdale Cemetery, about six miles outside Franklin, included several police officers standing and saluting at different intersections.
Outside Kenneth Simpson Construction along the route at Robey Street, two women held American flags in one hand, their other hand placed over their hearts.
A couple outside a home on Ky. 1171 near the cemetery also paid tribute to Gorham’s sacrifice, holding small American flags.
A stiff breeze and overcast sky marked Gorham’s burial with military honors at Hillsdale Cemetery.
The solemn occasion was punctuated by a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps and the folding of the U.S. flag for presentation to Gorham’s parents.