VIROQUA, Wis. (WKBT) - After 70 years, a World War II veteran is finally coming home and getting a proper burial.
The remains of Pvt. First Class Lawrence Gordon are being taken to Canada.
Gordon was Canadian, but dedicated his life to the US military. He was killed near Normandy in 1944.
It was assumed Gordon was German and was buried in a German cemetery. However, recent research done by the University of Wisconsin revealed the true identity of the remains.
Now begins the hero's journey back to his hometown in Canada. The Vernon County Sheriff's Department started the escort this afternoon and took Gordon to Minnesota. From there, law enforcement agencies from neighboring states will continue the journey to Canada.
"The people have been absolutely fantastic, their spirit and hearts are in the right place, they honor fallen soldiers, they respect them, they do the right thing and I am very very proud of everyone I have met," said Lawrence Gordon, the nephew of PFC Lawrence Gordon.
Gordon's remains will be transported a total of 1,600 miles from Wisconsin, all the way to Canada.
The journey home starts in Wisconsin, where researchers uncovered his identity.
The Patriot Honor Guard will be accompanying Gordon's remains all the way home because they said it's a homecoming well overdue.
Whether you served in the Navy or the U.S. Army, there seems to be an unwritten rule everyone follows, to never leave a man behind.
"Your best friend is the person beside you, and if 20 of us go in, 20 of us are coming out," said Steven Thompson, commander of Viroqua VFW Post 3032.
"You take care of everyone around you and everyone around you takes care of you," said Henry Lange, captain of the Patriot Guard Ride.
That pledge is what makes Gordon's homecoming possible.
"As a member of the military, our main objective is of course to make sure everyone of our fellow veterans make it back home," said John Thurk, department vice commander for American Legion.
And honoring that pledge is what brings so many to Viroqua Friday afternoon.
"We are all veterans and any time we can pay tribute to a fallen veteran, it's an incredible honor," said Thompson.
After spending seven decades as a misidentified soldier and being buried in a German cemetery, World War II veteran is finally on his way home.
"It took 70 years, but somebody remembered for 70 years and they are setting it right and we are here to help them set it right," said Lange.
Lange, along with other Patriot Guard Riders and law enforcement agencies, will escort Gordon's remains from Wisconsin all the way to his hometown in Canada.
"We will escort all the way to the La Crescent, Minnesota, American Legion and then a group of Minnesota Patriot Riders are going to meet up there, they will take him through Minnesota, where the South Dakota Patriot Guard will be there to pick him up and then take him all the way to Canada.
Although Gordon spent 70 years overseas alone, with family and friends waiting for his return to Canada, he will never be alone again.
"To me it feels really good to know that this man is going to be taken care of all the way home and that is what we are doing, taking him home," said Lange.
And because of that unwritten honorable pledge, Gordon is finally going home.
"We all have to come home," said Thompson.
The motorcade hopes to reach Canada by Aug. 11. Gordon will be buried in Canada on Aug. 13, the 70th anniversary of his death.
- Washout impacting Highway 82 bridge traffic
- Area veterans visit cemeteries, honor fallen heroes
- Riverside Memorial Day ceremony honors sea-based service members
- Service members honored at La Crosse's Memorial Day ceremony
- La Crosse celebrates Memorial Day with annual parade
- 4 killed, 5 injured in minivan-pickup crash in NW Wisconsin
- Two people rescued from Onalaska Spillway
- Counselors on hand at Burlington High after 3 deaths
- Iowa preschool teacher donating kidney to student's father
- Firefighters unable to find man spotted in Des Moines River