WWII Remains Makes Return to Home Soil

A WWII corpse which has lain across the sea for almost seven decades is finally being transported back to the United States. Private first class Lawrence Gordon died in August of 1944, but he was the only one out of over forty soldiers killed during his mission whose body was never brought home. Now, he has been found in a French cemetery and the corpse of the young WWII soldier is to be transported back overseas where it belongs.

Many have criticized JPAC—the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command—for their failure to locate the vast majority of missing bodies from WWII. In fact, it was not even JPAC who located Gordon’s body, but rather other specialists in forensic identification who elected themselves to the task of finding the young soldier’s corpse and returning it home. Their research, when completed, only cost them one four hundredth of JPAC’s annual budget.

The discovery of Gordon’s corpse shows just how well nations involved in the war have been able to communicate in the decades following. The French cemetery in which Gordon was found is dedicated to German soldiers, meaning that Germany had to work closely with France as well as the United States and Canada to locate the body. Canada is involved due to Gordon’s original heritage, though he was living in the United States during the outbreak of WWII, the CBS News reports.

Part of the reason for the low cost is that the French government, hearing of JPAC’s lack of action on the matter, conducted the majority of their end of the research for no fee at all. JPAC still had to be worked with, so additional tests were done on the WWII corpse, and the DNA was conclusively found to be Gordon’s. Of course, now that the tests are all completed, JPAC has increased their role in learning more about the DNA tests and becoming generally visible in the completion of the investigation.

Tests on the WWII corpse of Pfc. Gordon will be examined at the University of Wisconsin at least until May, when the fallen soldier’s surviving family will honor him at his resting place in the French cemetery in which his body currently resides. Thanks in no small part to the amount of testing done on the body, methods of streamlining DNA identification have been thoroughly researched as a result. Hopefully, this means that JPAC will be able to step up their game and discover more bodies themselves. For now, the WWII corpse awaits its transportation to the United States, and eventually a final trip to Gordon’s eventual Canadian resting place.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE