Remains of Missing WWII Medal of Honor Recipient Returned

The remains of a Marine Corps lieutenant who posthumously received the Medal of Honor after the Battle of Tarawa in World War II have been recovered and returned to the US for burial, according to the Department of Defense. 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, of Knoxville, Tenn., will be buried with full military honors Sept. 27 in Knoxville, according to a release. In November 1943, Bonnyman landed on the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the South Pacific with the 2nd Marine Division to secure it from the Japanese. After days of fighting, with over 1,000 marines killed, Bonnyman led a team in an attack against Japanese forces, which led to close quarters fighting. He was reported killed in action on Nov. 22, 1943, but his body was not recovered at the time of the battle. Bonnyman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for acts of valor during the attack. US servicemen who died were buried in several battlefield cemeteries on the island, and though remains were recovered in 1947, Bonnyman’s was not among them. In June 2015, a History Flight Inc. team notified DOD they discovered a burial site on Betio with what they believed to be the remains of US marines who were killed during the battle. Dental records and material evidence led to a match by DPAA officials last summer.