The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. Lawrence S. Gordon, 28, a Canadian citizen, will be buried Aug. 13 in Canada. On Aug. 13, 1944, Gordon and elements of the Reconnaissance Company, 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division were deployed to France. Gordon was the commander of an M8 armored car traveling near the village of Carrouges, France, when his vehicle was struck in the gas tank by German anti-tank fire, which caused the armored car to catch fire and burn. During this attack Gordon was reported as missing in action. His remains were not recovered after the attack.
Military salvage records later indicated that an M8 armored car, bearing Reconnaissance markings, was recorded to have burned due to enemy fire, and that the vehicle and crew members that had not survived the attack were recovered on Aug. 15, 1945. Two weeks after Gordon’s disappearance, his wallet was received by the Effects Quartermaster Corps. On April 3, 1945, Gordon’s status was changed to killed in action.
On July 22, 1947, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) was conducting field investigations on the loss of Gordon during anti-tank fire near Carrouges, but failed to locate Gordon’s remains. The investigators noted that prior to Aug. 18, 1944, two sets of unknown remains, clothed in German uniforms but believed to be those of American service members, were delivered to a temporary U.S. cemetery in Gorron, France. Due to lack of necessary documentation for identification and the high number of casualties between August1-18, 1944, the AGRC concluded there was insufficient information to pursue further identifications. On May 25, 1961, remains were transferred from the temporary cemetery to the custody of the German War Graves Commission and interred at Mont-de- Huisnes, France.
In August 1951, the AGRC issued a final report determining that due to paucity of remains and lack of information, there was no association between the remains buried at the temporary cemetery and Gordon. Therefore, Gordon was determined to be non-recoverable by a military review board on Sept. 25, 1951.
An independent researcher, Jed Henry, provided historical research that led to the disinterment and the subsequent identification of Gordon. Scientists from Bode Technology and the University of Wisconsin’s Biotechnology Center used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as mitochondrial DNA sequence data.
The U.S. Army provides escort to ensure the fallen service member is properly transported, cared and accounted for until they are returned to their family. Gordon was returned to the family in July and a special escort was provided as he was returned to the U.S. The family has chosen to return Gordon to Canada via ground transportation and will be reimbursed for the transportation costs from Wisconsin to Canada. Honors are being provided at the funeral and were provided at brief ceremonies when Gordon was transitioned from one transportation mode to another.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.