WWII Vet 'Buried at Sea' Finally Coming Home

Remains of Tennessee Medal of Honor recipient are found on Pacific Island
By Brownie Marie,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2015 6:24 PM CDT
WWII Vet 'Buried at Sea' Finally Coming Home
An American flag flies over the US Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Va.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The remains of a World War II Marine will finally be laid to rest after a 70-year search for his body. First Lt. Alexander "Sandy" Bonnyman Jr. was killed on Nov. 22, 1943, in the Battle of Tarawa, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. The Medal of Honor recipient was one of more than 1,000 Americans killed on the Pacific island of Betio during the assault, and one of hundreds deemed "unrecoverable" by the military. For decades, Bonnyman’s family sought answers beyond the words "buried at sea," but generations passed without a resolution. "My great-grandparents really worked hard to get his remains back," Bonnyman’s grandson, Clay Bonnyman Evans explains. "They wrote letters, and they just sort of got every story in the book from the military; they thought they would never have his remains."

WWII research and recovery nonprofit History Flight gave the family hope when it launched a multimillion-dollar search of the Gilbert Islands in 2006. On May 28 of this year, the skull of Bonnyman was uncovered, and he was positively identified less than three weeks later, thanks in part to "distinctive" dental work, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel. His remains will be returned to his family next month, and he will be buried in a family plot in Knoxville. History Flight recovered the remains of 35 other Marines on Betio last month. The remains of 30 other WWII Medal of Honor recipients remain missing, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. (Earlier this year, bodies of Japanese soldiers were found in a sealed cave.)

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