Remains of World War II Marine Killed at Tarawa Coming Home

Remains of World War II Marine Killed at Tarawa Coming Home

Remains of World War II Marine Killed at Tarawa Coming Home

The recently identified remains of a Marine hailed for his bravery in battle are heading home 72 years after he was killed on a remote Pacific atoll during World War II.

First Lt. Alexander "Sandy" Bonnyman died at age 33 while leading Marines against entrenched Japanese forces during a three-day fight for the strategically important island of Tarawa in 1943. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1947, but his remains weren't found until earlier this year by a nonprofit organization called History Flight that has been searching for the remains of missing servicemen.

A bugler played taps and a color guard rendered honors for Bonnyman during a departure ceremony on Thursday in Honolulu. Bonnyman's family plans to lay him to rest Sunday at the same Knoxville, Tennessee, cemetery where his parents were buried.

"I feel I'm carrying on that mission that they started in 1944," Clay Bonnyman Evans, Bonnyman's grandson, said of his great-grandparents. "Here we are in 2015. All those years later, it's being done. He's going to be buried exactly where they wanted him."

More than 990 U.S. Marines and 30 sailors died in the Battle of Tarawa. Japanese machine gun fire killed scores of Marines when their boats got stuck on the reef at low tide during the U.S. amphibious assault. Americans who made it to the beach faced brutal hand-to-hand combat.

 

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