Ambassador Removed From Arlington – Associated Press: Friday, December 12, 1997

The body of U.S. Ambassador Larry Lawrence was reburied in a private cemetery after its exhumation from Arlington National Cemetery amid questions about his military record, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported today.

The body of the former ambassador to Switzerland was removed from Arlington early Thursday and flown to San Diego, a week after Republicans questioned Lawrence’s wartime service claims that helped win permission for burial at Arlington.

The body was buried at the El Camino Memorial Park and Mortuary, the newspaper reported, citing anonymous sources. A spokesman for the family said all details will remain private.

The controversy concerns whether Lawrence served in the Merchant Marine in 1945 and was wounded in action, as he had claimed.

He died in 1996 after three years as ambassador and his Merchant Marine service was cited to help him receive a waiver to be buried in the nation’s most prominent military cemetery. But congressional investigators said last week they had found no evidence that he served in the Merchant Marine.

Also, Wilbur Wright Junior College in Chicago confirmed that Lawrence was a full-time student in March 1945, the same month he claimed his ship was torpedoed off the Russian coast.

Lawrence’s widow, Shelia Davis Lawrence, asked President Clinton in a letter this week to order the body exhumed and moved to San Diego, where Lawrence owned the landmark Hotel del Coronado.

She said the controversy over his burial in Arlington “precludes his resting there in peace.”

House Republicans have said they will pursue an investigation into the military waiver that allowed Lawrence, a major donor to the Democratic Party, to be buried at Arlington.

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