Coming home

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

With those words, President Franklin Roosevelt ensured America would never forget Pearl Harbor.

Betty Anderson was only 15 years old, but this would be a day she and her family would never forget.

“I was out Sunday afternoon with a couple of girls [when it happened],” said Anderson, sister to Navy Fireman 1st Class Lawrence Fecho. “[At the time] we didn’t think too much of it.”

Lawrence was assigned to the USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor. His ship was struck by nine Japanese torpedoes, causing it to capsize. 429 sailors and marines were trapped, giving the ultimate sacrifice, their life.

“I thought it was impossible he was dead,” said Anderson. “We all thought maybe he went to town and stayed overnight. We just received Christmas cards from him. [But] a few days after, we were told he was killed.”

In 1943, the Oklahoma was removed from the ocean and the bodies were recovered. Due to the lack of technology at the time, many were buried without being identified. They were laid to rest with a shared memorial stone.

Lawrence was still missing.

72 years after recovery and with the advance in technology, the Department of Defense announced plans to identify the originally unidentified remains of those killed and buried.

Lawrence was one of the missing who were identified.

He was finally returned home to North Dakota, on Aug. 13, 2017. He was laid to rest at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Willow Creek.

Lawrence was welcomed by Willow City natives, Minot Air Force Base Airmen, families and military veterans. More than 200 people lined the streets for Lawrence’s return.

“I think this community has answered the call pretty well,” said Bill Fecho, Willow City mayor and Lawrence’s nephew. “The amount of support we’re getting is unbelievable.”

Support came from not only the community, but also military members from Minot AFB.

“I supported the memorial to serve those who served before me, especially those who lost their lives while serving,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Knight, 5th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of officer and enlisted promotions, retirements and separations. “I will try to attend as many of these returns as possible, they deserve it.”

The funeral also brought Lawrence’s extended family together. Approximately 40 relatives from all over the country attended the return.

“We would never get together without something of this magnitude happening,” said Bill. “It brought the family close.”

The memorial was an example that those who serve and lose their life live on to this day.

“I feel it's our duty as Airmen and as Americans to support those who answer the call to protect this country and to pay our respects to them and their families,” said Knight. “I ensure that the member and their families know that they are not forgotten.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.