After 70 years, the remains of a U.S. soldier killed during World War II are finally on their way home after DNA testing identified the solider—who had a connection to Wisconsin.
After the University of Wisconsin-Madison completed DNA analysis on February 14, they were able to identify the remains as Lawrence Gordon. It was found that Gordon was close friends with former Vernon County V.F.W. Post 3032 Commander David Henry. It was in Viroqua where the start of the final journey home began for Army Private Gordon.
Gordon, one of three in the family who served in the military, died in a truck explosion in France while serving in World War II. His body was found wearing a German uniform. Speculation is the weather was cool on the night of August 13th, 1944, and Gordon may have put on a discarded German jacket to stay warm. It was because of this that Gordon was buried as a German unknown soldier in Huisnes SurMer, France.
Gordon was buried as a German unknown for 69 years, and was the only one of the 44 soldiers unidentified following the explosion.
V.F.W. Post members and their families honored Gordon in Viroqua on Friday, and Gordon's nephew, who shares the same name, said the recognition is long overdue. "No one wanted him forgotten, I guess that may be the definition of a hero,” Nephew Lawrence Gordon said. “Certainly, he was just missed badly by his family and they wished it had never happened to him as every family does when they lose somebody in war."
Gordon said this is important because it brings closure within the family. "It's been a really long time coming,” Gordon said.
"This is just a way to close the circle, finish the story off, it'll give closure to the family and everyone else."
V.F.W. Post 3032 Quartermaster Eric Sherry said although there are still thousands of missing soldiers, it's always a relief when one is found, because it's hard to say goodbye to the unknown. "Until you got family or somebody that knows somebody that's actually missing, it's a big thing,” Sherry said. “The mother never knew what happened to her son. She went to her grave without knowing."
Private Lawrence Gordon will be buried in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada at 1 p.m. On August 13—equivalent to eight p.m. In France, roughly the time when he was killed 70 years ago.
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