Bonnyman Found on Tarawa
Marine First Lieutenant Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman’s valor during the November 1943 Battle for Tarawa earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor—and, until March 2015, a forgotten grave.
This changed with the discovery of a long-lost burial trench—designated Cemetery 27—by a team from History Flight Inc., a Florida-based nonprofit that specializes in the recovery and repatriation of U.S. fallen from 20th-century battlegrounds around the globe. History Flight field specialists recently recovered at least three dozen sets of Marine remains. While a forensic review is still under way, dental records confirm the recovery of Bonnyman, one of four Tarawa Medal of Honor recipients, and the last to be unaccounted for.
Bonnyman, 33 when he died, is a fixture in Pacific war lore. Son of a Knoxville, Tennessee, mine-company president, he operated a New Mexico copper-mining business when World War II began. Though exempt from military obligation, Bonnyman enlisted in the Marine Corps. After distinguishing himself on Guadalcanal, he accepted a field commission and served on Tarawa as executive officer in a combat engineering unit.