Vietnam soldier finally returns home to NJ

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - September 23, 2011

"He was fun to be around, and very pleasant, excellent athlete," classmate Grace Stettner said.

"He respected everything, he listened to you, and he had a great sense of humor and he wasn't afraid to help you," friend Russ DePaul said.

A star athlete at Phillipsburg High School, he went on be become co captain of the Rutgers University Football Team in 1964.

But Bruce Lawrence did not fulfill his lifelong dream until he became an Air Force fighter pilot.

Barbara Weidner is Bruce's sister.

"In his high school yearbook, underlined, hopes to fly jets, that was there from the very beginning," Barbara said.

The 25-year-old pilot was flying a recon mission over Laos during the Vietnam War when his fighter jet was shot down.

Bruce was killed, and his remains were never recovered.

That was May of 1968.

Now, 43 years later, Bruce Lawrence has come home.

"It's bitter-sweet in a sense, but on the same token, it's closure now," Barbara said.

Few details have been released about how or exactly where US military officials found Bruce's remains, but DNA testing confirmed his identity.

Barbara says the only thing better than getting to properly memorialize her brother is the response by her community when news spread of his return.

"He will never be forgotten, he won't be forgotten here and he won't be forgotten with anybody that knew him and loved him; he's the hometown hero," Barbara said.

After a day filled with ceremonies, US Air Force Major Bruce Lawrence will finally be laid to rest with full honors next to his parents in a cemetery in nearby Williamstown.

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