WWII soldier's remains stop in Madison on long journey home - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

WWII soldier's remains stop in Madison on long journey home

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A Canadian-born U.S. soldier is finally on his way home almost 70 years after he was killed in action during World War II.

Private First Class Lawrence Gordon's family traveled to France this week to bring back his remains. They were delivered Wednesday evening to UW-Madison for further examination.

Illinois State Police and Patriot Guard riders escorted the Gordon family and PFC Gordon's remains to the state border where Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin Guard riders and local law enforcement took over, taking them to UW Hospital. The Wisconsin National Guard received the remains with a special Honor Guard ceremony.

"He was willing to risk his life for us and the least we can do is be there when he comes home," says Patriot Guard riders state captain John Curran.

It's been a long journey for PFC Gordon. The 28-year-old soldier was killed in a battle in France in 1944. He was never identified and the U.S. military declared him missing.

His remains were thought to be of a German soldier and were buried in a German cemetery in France. For 70 years, the Gordon family in Canada wondered what happened to him and where he ended up until 2012 when a Middleton filmmaker approached them.

Jed Henry, who was researching his grandfather who served in the same unit with PFC Gordon, helped lead the effort to identify the remains. Just two weeks ago a French lab, with the help of UW-Madison researchers, were able to prove with a 99.995 percent likelihood the remains are PFC Lawrence Gordon.

It's come as a relief to Gordon's family, his namesake nephew, Lawrence Gordon. While he never met his uncle, he's grateful to finally have closure for those who loved him.

"Uncle Lawrence has been dead now nearly 70 years so this is really a celebration of the identification and the recovery of him," says Gordon.

Gordon hopes an exam Thursday will reveal more about the cause of PFC Gordon's death. It's being performed at a brand new autopsy center at UW Hospital, just opened on June 2.

"Evidence of trauma might be there, further confirmation of who he is, predominantly to ensure that these are his remains only and we don't have commingled remains," says Dr. Bob Corliss, director of autopsy for UW's Med School. "It's really just a closure aspect, the final piece to make sure that this is what we have, this is him."

Forensic experts Leslie Eisenberg and Don Simley will examine PFC Gordon's remains before he heads to his hometown in Saskatchewan, his final resting place, in August.

Tomorrow night on 27 News at 5 & 6, we'll hear more from Lawrence Gordon and the researchers on what they've found.

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