UPDATE: Exam determines cause of death for recently-identified W - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Exam determines cause of death for recently-identified WWII soldier

Posted: Updated:
MADISON (WKOW) -- Local forensic experts say a Canadian-born U.S. soldier whose remains were missing nearly 70 years died of combat-related injuries.

Private First Class Lawrence Gordon was killed in 1944 in France but his body was never found. His name has been on the Wall of the Missing at Brittany American Cemetery in France for nearly seven decades. Just this year, it was discovered he was mistakenly buried as an unidentified German soldier.

In recent weeks, DNA evidence has confirmed with a more than 99 percent chance the remains are that of PFC Gordon. UW researchers helped corroborate the data.

Gordon's family visited France to bring home his remains this week. They traveled through Madison Wednesday with a motorcade and a Honor Guard ceremony.

Forensic experts conducted an exam on the remains at UW Hospital's new autopsy center Thursday morning, hoping to find out how PFC Gordon was killed.

"Some of the bones were fractured as a result of penetration of metal objects, not so much shrapnel, but larger portions of metal that may have originated when the tank was hit by fire and the tank itself may have exploded because there was ammunition inside the tank as well," says Dr. Leslie Eisenberg, an anthropologist.

Eisenberg tells 27 News most of PFC Gordon's bones were among the remains and they were able to determine the remains represented just one person. Often, in military conflict an autopsy can become complicated by multiple deaths and mixing of the remains.

Forensic dentist Don Simley also assisted in the exam Thursday. He had been working with the family to identify Gordon's remains for some time, starting with dental records from the U.S. military and also post mortem charting of the remains overseas. All had discrepancies so Simley says it was impossible from a dental perspective to positively identify the remains as Gordon without a doubt.

Simley says photographic evidence did help before the DNA results were confirmed.

"It was a smiling photograph from when PFC Gordon was alive," Simley tells 27 News. "We could actually do a superimposition from the skull with the photograph and you could see where the teeth were right on, so it really looked good from that point of view."

Both Simley and Eisenberg say they're proud to be a part of the team who worked to identify Gordon and bring closure to his family after nearly seven decades.

Now, Gordon's remains will go on to a funeral home in Wisconsin where he will be prepared for a proper military funeral. His family will return to Wisconsin to pick up Gordon in August. He'll be finally laid to rest in his hometown in Saskatchewan on the 70th anniversary of his death.

********

MADISON (WKOW) -- Local forensic experts are getting to work to try to find out how a Canadian-born U.S. soldier was killed in action during World War II before he went missing for nearly 70 years.

Private First Class Lawrence Gordon was killed in 1944 in France but his body was never found. His name has been on the Wall of the Missing at Brittany American Cemetery in France for nearly seven decades. Just this year, it was discovered he was mistakenly buried as an unidentified German soldier.

In recent weeks, DNA evidence has confirmed with a more than 99 percent chance the remains are that of PFC Gordon. UW researchers helped corroborate the data.

Gordon's family visited France to bring home his remains this week. They traveled through Madison Wednesday with a motorcade and a Honor Guard ceremony.

Forensic experts are conducting an exam on the remains at UW Hospital's new autopsy center Thursday morning, hoping to find out how PFC Gordon was killed.

"What I'd like to know is, are all the parts there or are there parts missing?" says PFC Gordon's namesake nephew, Lawrence Gordon, in a Wednesday interview. "Is there anything they can tell that would lead us to any conclusions about the death? That's really what we're most interested in now."

Tonight on 27 News at 5 & 6, we'll give you an update on the results of the exam and hear more from PFC Lawrence Gordon's interview. Watch the attached video for a look at the complete interview with Gordon.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WKOW. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Anna Engelhart at 608-661-2767. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.