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First Name: Lawrence

Last Name: Gordon

Birthplace: Eastend, Sas, CAN

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Eastend, Saskatchewan, CN
Middle Name: Samuel

Date of Birth: 26 June 1916

Date of Death: 13 August 1944

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: 1942 - 1944
Lawrence Samuel Gordon

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Lawrence Samuel Gordon
Private First Class, U.S. Army

Lawrence Samuel Gordon grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada. He was one of three brothers who enlisted to serve in World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; two of them in the U.S. Army and one in the Canadian Army. The two who chose to serve in the U.S. Army did so for its 'better equipment" and because it seemed to be a more "modern" army.

After completion of his Army training, Gordon was shipped to the European Theater of Operations. On 13 August 1944, PFC Lawrence Samuel Gordon was a member of Reconnaissance Company, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division, serving in France. His small reconnaissance unit, only 199 men at full strength, was fighting in Lower Normandy, near Ranes in the Department of Orne. On that day, PFC Gordon was part of a team of four assigned to a machinegun armored car. PFC Gordon and one other was Killed in Action when their vehicle was hit by gunfire from a tank; a third team member died of his injuries a short time later.

The Reconnaissance Company of 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division, had 44 men killed in combat. PFC Lawrence Samuel Gordon was the only one whose body never had the honor of a grave stone with his name on it; his body disappeared. The personal effects that he was carrying on him at the time of his death, including a partially-burned wallet, were returned to his family but the body was never recovered. Battle Casualty Report #188234 from the U.S. War Department reported PFC Gordon as MIA but offered no other information to the Gordon family.

It was later learned that all but one of the men in the armored car were killed by that blast on 13 August 1944, and that the unknown remains from that attack were buried in a temporary U.S. cemetery in Gorron, France. At one point, the Gordon family was informed that PFC Gordon had been buried there "with honors."

Later, on exhumation in 1945, Gordon’s remains were identified as those of a German, based on clothing label fragments found with the remains. His remains were then re-buried as those of unknown German (X-3), eventually being placed in a vault in the ossuary at Mont-de-Huisnes in Normandy, France.

Some years ago, in fulfilling a promise made to his father (PFC Gordon's brother), Lawrence Gordon, namesake of his fallen uncle, went to Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial in Saint-James, Departement de la Manche, Basse-Normandie, France, to visit his uncle’s grave. But of course there was no grave; only his uncles name inscribed on the Wall of the Missing.

A few years later, Jed Henry of Wisconsin was researching the unit in which his grandfather, SSG David L. Henry, had served during WWII. The unit was the Reconnaissance Company of 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division; PFC Gordon’s unit.

Jed had met Lawrence Gordon (the nephew) and learned of the disappearance of his body, so he decided to find out what really happened to PFC Gordon. After two years of research and dialogue with French, German and US authorities, exhumation of the remains of the unknown German X-3, took place in September 2013 in the hope that DNA analysis would prove that the remains are those of PFC Lawrence S. Gordon.

A forensic team — the same team that works on crime scenes across France — took tooth and bone samples for DNA study in Marseille. They found a large piece of metal driven into the socket of one of the femurs, which was a strong hint that the death was painful. The results will be analyzed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin. A determination as to whether the remains belong to PFC Gordon won’t likely be ready until late 2013 or early 2014.

Summary of Findings
24 February 2014

The following excerpts are from a posting made by Jed Henry on the Bataan Missing website:

"Today I am proud to announce with distinct honor and pride that the national crime lab in France, l’Institut National de Police Scientifique (INPS) has finished their DNA analysis on the remains of Gorron Unknown X-3/X-356 and they have informed us that those remains currently located in the German ossuary Mont-de-Huisnes at crypt 40, burial chamber 57, coffin number 8209 are those of US Army Private First Class Lawrence S. Gordon. PFC Gordon, a member of an armored car crew of the Reconnaissance Company, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division, was killed on August 13th, 1944 in support of American operations to close the Falaise Gap and stop the German 7th Army from escaping east during World War II in France. Because of the German and French governments and DNA testing, we now know almost the whole story about what happened to PFC Gordon after his untimely death at the age of 28."

"At this time it is the Gordon family’s wish that if the US Government, Department of Defense, US Military, and/or the Accounting Community are interested in confirming the identity of Private First Class Lawrence S. Gordon, that they make arrangements immediately to observe the testing being done by Dr. Joshua Hyman at the University of Wisconsin’s DNA Sequencing Facility. Also consulting on this case and handling any additional testing with Dr. Hyman will be Ed Huffine of Bode Technology (Ed is the former Chief of AFDIL’s mt-DNA section)."

"Once the University of Wisconsin has confirmed the identification made by the national crime lab in France (INPS) we will work directly with the French and Germans to have the remains of PFC Gordon released directly into the custody of Mr. Gordon, the primary next of kin (we already have a diplomatic team in place to accomplish this). Once released, those remains will travel to Madison, Wisconsin to be examined by Leslie Eisenberg, Ph.D. Diplomate, American Board of Forensic Anthropology (same governing board as JPAC anthropologists) and also Donald O. Simley II, D.D.S. Diplomate, American Board of Forensic Odontology at a date to be determined. All of these proceedings are open to the government should they want to observe and ask questions, but these tests will be done by the scientific experts that we had to assemble when JPAC declined our many requests to be involved in this case and/or provide assistance."

"We did not want to go through the time, expense, and trouble of assembling a team of experts, but the US Government’s Accounting Community (to identify unknown soldier remains & account for MIAs) left us no options and we are unwilling now to wait around for them to assemble a team that we asked for almost a year ago. The Gordon family and I are confident that the experts we have in place can provide the expertise needed to prove beyond a doubt that these remains are in fact PFC Gordon. Therefore if the US Government is unwilling to accept the results from INPS, the University of Wisconsin, and/or Bode Technology (Ed Huffine) then the Gordon family is willing to accept those consequences, which means Mr. Gordon is prepared to pay all the cost associated with returning this American hero for a proper burial and the Gordon family will find a way to honor his life and his service in the United States Army on their own. This approach will also free up the time and resources of the case manager for PFC Gordon so he can concentrate on the 3,500 other families he represents by himself."

"We would also like to inform everyone that the burial of Private First Class Lawrence S. Gordon will be on August 13, 2014 (the 70th anniversary of his death) in Eastend, Saskatchewan, Canada. Because we have less than six months before the burial, if the US Government wishes to be involved in this process we would appreciate a timely response and a clear line of communication."

Update! Lawrence is Home!
11 June 2014

On Wednesday, 11 June 2014 at approximately 2:12 PM, an American Airlines plane carrying the remains of PFC Lawrence Samuel Gordon landed at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL. Also on board was his uncle, Lawrence Gordon and his son Dave, as well as Jed Henry, the team lead for this effort and several of his family members. MHOH member Pat Gorman and his wife, Carol, were honored to be present for all the proceedings and have provided some photos.

The remains of PFC Gordon were welcomed home by members of the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Fire Department (who did the traditional dousing of the aircraft bearing the remains), members of the American Airlines workforce, Customs Agents, the Patriot Guards, and members of the Illinois National Guard who performed the dignified transfer of the remains to a waiting transport vehicle and then to the hearse. Other dignitaries included Renee Richardson, U.S. Army and U.S. Navy (Ret) and Dr. Joshua Hyman at the University of Wisconsin’s DNA Sequencing Facility.

A convoy led by an Illinois State Police and Patriot Guards then transported the remains to the University of Wisconsin Hospital autopsy suite.

Funeral Service
13 August 2014

About 400 hundred people from the Eastend Saskatchewan area packed the town hall to hear words from Rev. James Farrell, songs by local musicians, and a special song, “Prairie Thunder” written and performed by Colm McConville, a Gordon family friend and professional musician from Northern Ireland. Lawrence S. Gordon, a nephew who was named in honor of his late uncle, was then presented the medals his Uncle Lawrence had earned while in service of the U.S. Army. The medals were presented by Jeremy Lingenfelser; Casualty Operations Officer at Fort McCoy, and included: the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal. History also showed that he earned two awards for marksmanship.

Following another ceremony by Rev Farrell at Riverside Cemetery, just outside of Eastend, Private First Class Lawrence Samuel Gordon was buried in the soil of his homeland with honors that included a 21-gun salute.

Dignitaries attending the ceremonies included Renee Richardson, U.S. Army/Navy retired; Jeremy Lingenfelser U.S. Army; the U.S. Honor Guard from Fort Lewis, WA; the Honor Guard from the Canadian Army; retired members of the Canadian 3rd Calvary; and members of the Patriot Guard Riders. The attendees then returned to the hall to finish out the days activities with lunch, a program, and a Q&A session with Jed Henry, leader of the research team that led to the recovery of Lawrence's remains.

Rest in Peace, Lawrence

Honoree ID: 50823   Created by: MHOH




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