Remains of Medal of Honor Recipient to Return to Tennessee

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 | 10:40am

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder recognize the service and sacrifice of 1st Lieutenant Alexander Bonnyman, Jr.  Bonnyman, of Knoxville, was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 18th Marines Regiment, 2nd Marine Division when he was killed in action on November 22, 1943 after several days of intense combat on the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll. 

Approximately 1,100 Marines were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded.  Bonnyman personally led a 21-man team in the attack against Japanese forces holding a large concrete blockhouse and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for personal acts of exceptional valor during the battle.  He was 33 years old. 

After the battle of Tarawa, service members were buried in a number of battlefields on the island.  In June 2015, a team from History Flight Inc. notified the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) after discovering a burial site on Betio Island. 

According to the DPAA press release distributed on September 21, Bonnyman was identified using dental records and other evidence. 

“Lieutenant Bonnyman’s extraordinary valor leadership have been shared all over the country for decades, and we are grateful to finally welcome home this hero and iconic Tennessean,” Haslam said. 

“We are honored to recognize the courage and sacrifice of Medal of Honor recipient Alexander Bonnyman,” Grinder said.  “We join the Bonnyman family in remembering his contributions to our state, the fearless defense of our country and his commitment to exemplary service to the United States Marine Corps.”

Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Sunday, September 27 in honor of 1st Lieutenant Bonnyman’s ultimate sacrifice.  Bonyman will be buried at the Berry Highland Memorial Cemetery at 5315 Kingston Pike in Knoxville at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) September 27.  For additional information regarding the Bonnyman arrangements, please visit

Bonnyman is survived by his daughter Frances Bonnyman Evans of Boulder, Colorado and daughter Alexandra Bonnyman Prejean of Hana, Hawaii as well as his grandson Clay Bonnyman Evans and granddaughters Catherine Evans Lambert, Alexandra Bonnyman Prejean and Margot McAllister.