Hero’s Return: Many Come Out to Pay Respects for Fallen Korean War Soldier

Corporal Charles Lawler’s long awaited arrival filled Traverse City’s Cherry Capital Airport with those wanting to honor the fallen hero.

“There was a beautiful, great turn out in the community, the support was phenomenal, the flags and the people standing at attention,” said John Stocki, a member of the Rolling Thunder in attendance Thursday.

Many came out Thursday to honor Cpl. Charles Lawler at his long awaited homecoming, but no one in this group knows the man they are paying their respects to.

Charles Stanley Lawler was born December 26, 1930. He grew up in Alabama then moved to Traverse City to spend his teenage years until he enlisted in the United States Army.

According to Army records, Cpl. Lawler’s company was defending a command post in North Korea. On November 2, 1950, at just 19 years old, Cpl. Lawler was listed as missing in action.

Thursday, almost 70 years later, he finally returned home.

“It just gives a sense of relief, their home, their found, just that final closure, they’re home they know where they’re at,” Stocki said.

Stocki is a member of Rolling Thunder, just one of the motorcycle groups a part of Thursday’s processional. He’s also a veteran, and a great grandson of a prisoner of war.

He was touched by Thursday’s turnout.

“It’s just beautiful to see that much support,” Stocki said. “For people to take the time out of their day for 10 minutes or what have you, to come out and pay their last respects to that veteran.”

After years of uncertainty, Cpl. Lawler will be laid to rest right next to his mother, who never gave up hope he would one day return to her.