DOD takes WWII soldier Lawrence Gordon off MIA list

The French and Germans have identified a set of remains from a German World War II cemetery in France as U.S. Army Pvt. 1st Class Lawrence Gordon.


By STEVEN VERBURG | The Wisconsin State Journal | Published: June 2, 2014

MADISON, Wis. — The Department of Defense has removed Pfc. Lawrence S. Gordon from its missing in action list nearly 70 years after he was killed in France during World War II.

Jed Henry, a Middleton journalist and filmmaker whose grandfather served with Gordon, battled for two years to force the military to acknowledge that Gordon was buried as an unknown German soldier in France.

Henry said he was helped by the Madison Police Department, UW-Madison’s DNA Sequencing Facility and members of the state’s congressional delegation.

The State Journal described the efforts in May 25 story.

Henry and several historians analyzed scores of sketchy and fragmented military records and concluded that Gordon, who was killed by an anti-tank shell in 1944, was buried in an enemy grave because German clothing was found with his charred remains.

The military refused to perform DNA tests. After the French national crime lab reported that its tests indicated the remains were Gordon’s, the Defense Department wouldn’t accept those results, Henry said.

Henry arranged for more tests at UW-Madison and a private laboratory.

The final reports from those labs were sent to the military in May.

On Tuesday, the Defense Department’s Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office added Gordon to its list of “accounted-for” soldiers, spokeswoman Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan said in an email.

Gordon’s remains will be removed from the cemetery in France this month, brought to Madison for forensic examination, then buried in his hometown of Eastend, Saskatchewan, on Aug. 13, the 70th anniversary of his death.

Henry said the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command scrapped its plan to send its own forensic examiner to observe in Madison.

“For the Gordon family, this is just one more example of JPAC’s disinterest in this case,” Henry said in a statement.