Major Gerald J. "Jerry" Lawrence, U.S. Air Force Ret., age 69, died Saturday evening, July 28, 2012 at his home, surrounded by his family following an extended illness.
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Born and raised in Norwalk, Connecticut, he graduated Fairfield Preparatory School in 1961. He later received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of New Hampshire.
Major Lawrence entered the Aviation Cadets program in 1964 and upon completion of his training was awarded his Navigator's Wings. He was then sent to Electronic Warfare School and was assigned for five years as an Electronic Warfare Officer on B52's. He later received his pilot's training at Vance Air Force Base, Enid, Oklahoma and was selected to fly C141 Transports and KC135 Tankers.
After flying numerous "Arc light" missions over Vietnam in 1968 and 1969 he returned to the United States assigned to flying transports from Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth. He was later assigned to his second tour in Vietnam to pilot QU22 reconnaissance aircraft and was shot down over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in August of 1972. He managed to evade capture until being rescued and returned to his unit to continue flying KC135's. After another assignment at Pease Air Force Base, NH, Major Lawrence was then given command and control of the RAF field in Fairford, England, a post he held for the next five years.
A highly decorated veteran, and recipient of numerous medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross, The Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters, The Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Major Lawrence finally returned to the United States and was assigned to Pease Air Force Base until his retirement in 1986.
Following his discharge from the service, he was employed as operations manager at Clark & Reid Moving Co. of Burlington, MA, and later for The Coach Company of Plaistow, NH.
An avid NASCAR fan, he enjoyed hunting and beekeeping, gardening and attending his annual Aviation Cadet Reunions.
A resident of Atkinson since 1972 Major Lawrence was honored to participate in the yearly Town of Atkinson Memorial Day and Veterans Day Parades.
He is survived by his wife of forty-seven years, Joan (Trez) Lawrence, a son Michael S. Lawrence of Cambridge, MA, two daughters, Danielle K. Battistelli of Atkinson and Kristen A Lawrence of Keene, two grandchildren Joshua C. Battistelli and Johnathan F. Battistelli, of Atkinson.
Relatives and friends may call on Thursday, August 2, 2012 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Brookside Chapel & Funeral Home, 116 Main St. Route 121A, Plaistow Village, NH. His funeral will take place on Friday at 10:30 a.m. in the funeral home followed by burial with full military honors at 1:30 p.m. in the State Veterans Cemetery, Boscawen, NH.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial donations may be made to The Cancer Research Program, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Office of Development, 7 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142 or online at friends.broadinstitute.org/contributionsonline. To send a message of condolence to the family or for directions to our facility go to www.brooksidechapelfh.com.
Published in The Hour on July 31, 2012