Murdered WWII Veteran Laid to Rest with Full Navy Honors

Murdered WWII Veteran Laid to Rest with Full Navy Honors

Eighty-seven-year-old World War II veteran Lawrence E. “Shine” Thornton was an American hero and a beloved man in his community in the Delta region in Mississippi. He passed away after four teenagers attacked him in his driveway and stole his wallet.

The funeral had a US Navy Honor Guard and an honor guard from his local Knights of Columbus. He was a Fireman First Class on the USS Herald in the Pacific Theater during World War II and a Fourth Degree Knight with the Knights of Columbus. His daughter-in-law Laura Thornton described it on her Facebook wall:

‘It’s been a tough but beautiful day. Tough because we said our final goodbyes to our beloved Pa Shine but beautiful because it was the type of day he would have loved,’ she said. 

‘It was a beautiful blue sky day. The funeral mass was perfect–from the Knights of Columbus Honor Guard, to the homily, to the beautiful music, to the Navy Honor Guard at the cemetery, to the delicious meal we enjoyed together afterwards with family and friends–he would have loved every minute of it!’

In 1984 he began cooking Maria’s Famous Hot Tamales, named after his wife Mary. The tamales won many awards and in 2012 he was named the Delta Hot Tamale Festival winner. He loved to sell snacks out of his kitchen and would sit with his customers while playing the fiddle. Everyone loved him. He was an electrician and owned a local liquor store. 

He drank coffee from the same mug every single morning at Jim’s Cafe. The mug was in commemoration of the Herald. The cafe tied a black ribbon on his usual chair and placed the mug on the table in a silent memorial to their favorite customer. 

He is survived by his two sons, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Local business owners pooled together money to offer an award for any information about the suspected murderers. Leslie Litt, 18, Geblonski Murray, 18, Terrance Morgan, 19, and Edward Johnson, 19, were arrested and charged with capital murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. They could face the death penalty. They are being held with bond set between $2 and $3 million. 

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