France’s national crime laboratory reported in late February that it has positively identified the remains of an U.S. Army soldier missing from World War II after the U.S. Defense Department’s own accounting agency refused to exhume the body and conduct a DNA test.
Army Pvt. 1st Class Lawrence Gordon’s remains were identified Feb. 13, after researchers were able to match mitochondrial DNA to Gordon’s nephews, his family confirmed Feb. 24.
According to military records, Gordon has been missing since Aug. 13, 1944, when he was killed in an M8 armored car that was struck by a German anti-tank shell near Carrouges, France. His remains were first interred in an American cemetery as “unknown,” despite the fact that his bloody wallet was sent home to his family and the man killed next to him was identified.
The remains were later exhumed and reburied in a German cemetery.
In early 2013, officials at the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command refused to exhume and test the remains, citing Defense Department policy. For years, they also refused to aid in the research effort.
The French and German governments, however, determined there was enough evidence to proceed with testing of their own.
Thanks to their efforts, Gordon’s remains will now be buried next to his father and brothers in Saskatchewan, Canada, on the 70th anniversary of his death, according to a statement released by the multi-national research team responsible for making the case to the French and German governments.