KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The family of 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnymarn, Jr., who was awarded the Medal of Honor after he was killed on Nov. 22, 1943 in the battle of Tarawa, has scheduled three three public events in conjunction with his burial in Knoxville, Tenn. Sept. 25-27.
Please see a detailed schedule at the end of this release.
The location of Lt. Bonnyman’s remains, along with those of hundreds of other Marines, was lost after they were buried on Tarawa following the fighting. An archaeological team from History Flight, Inc., a Florida-based nonprofit, recovered the remains of dozens of missing Marines between March and June, including those of Bonnyman.
Bonnyman, son of Alexander Bonnyman Sr., the late president of the Blue Diamond Coal Co., and Frances Berry Bonnyman, was born May 2, 1910 in Atlanta. He was raised in Knoxville and attended Princeton University. He was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico and operating a copper mine near Santa Rosa when he joined the Marine Corps Reserve in July 1942.
Procession from McGhee Tyson Airport to Berry Highland Memorial Cemetery
Date: Friday, Sept. 25
Time: Lt. Bonnyman’s casketed remains are scheduled to arrive at 11:20 a.m. at McGhee-Tyson Airport.
Location: McGhee-Tyson Airport to funeral home via Alcoa Highway and Kingston Pike
- Dignified transfer of remains with family and VIPs on tarmac
- Marine and funeral vehicles depart airport
- Volunteers from Patriot Riders and other veteran motorcycle groups will fall in outside airport.
- Knox County sheriff/Knoxville police will enforce rolling traffic blockade
Lt. Bonnyman’s casketed remains lying in honor and memorial
Date: Saturday, Sept. 26
Time: 2:30 to 6 p.m.
Location: East Tennessee Veteran’s Memorial, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville
- Memorial service and wreath laying: 2:30-3 p.m.
- 3 p.m.-6 p.m. – Public visitation of casketed remains; Medal of Honor, citation, photos on display
Funeral service and burial with full military honors
Date: Sunday, Sept. 27
Time: noon to 1 or 1:30 p.m. (estimated)
Location: Berry Highland Memorial Cemetery, 5315 Kingston Pike, Knoxville (map)
- Noon – remains transferred from chapel to horse-drawn caisson
- Noon-12:30 (estimated) – Marines, family, and caisson proceed to gravesite
- 12:30 (estimated) – Flyover of military aircraft
- 1-1:30 p.m. (estimated) – Funeral service, including ecumenical religious service and full military honors.
- Public parking and shuttle service at funeral home and adjacent businesses
- Shuttles stop running at 11:45
- No vehicle traffic allowed in cemetery except for family and VIPs
LeRoy Williamson says
As I read about Lt. Bonnyman, I felt compelled to find and read the Medal of Honor citation. For others who also want to know of Lt. Bonnyman’s actions, bravery, and ultimate sacrifice, I have cut and pasted the citation. I trust posting of the citation meets the approval of the Bonnyman family:
FIRST LIEUTENANT ALEXANDER BONNYMAN, JR.
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Executive Officer of the 2d Battalion Shore Party, 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division, during the assault against enemy Japanese-held Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, 20–22 November 1943. Acting on his own initiative when assault troops were pinned down at the far end of Betio Pier by the overwhelming fire of Japanese shore batteries, 1st Lt. Bonnyman repeatedly defied the blasting fury of the enemy bombardment to organize and lead the besieged men over the long, open pier to the beach and then, voluntarily obtaining flame throwers and demolitions, organized his pioneer shore party into assault demolitionists and directed the blowing of several hostile installations before the close of D-day. Determined to effect an opening in the enemy’s strongly organized defense line the following day, he voluntarily crawled approximately 40 yards forward of our lines and placed demolitions in the entrance of a large Japanese emplacement as the initial move in his planned attack against the heavily garrisoned, bombproof installation which was stubbornly resisting despite the destruction early in the action of a large number of Japanese who had been inflicting heavy casualties on our forces and holding up our advance. Withdrawing only to replenish his ammunition, he led his men in a renewed assault, fearlessly exposing himself to the merciless slash of hostile fire as he stormed the formidable bastion, directed the placement of demolition charges in both entrances and seized the top of the bombproof position, flushing more than 100 of the enemy who were instantly cut down, and effecting the annihilation of approximately 150 troops inside the emplacement. Assailed by additional Japanese after he had gained his objective, he made a heroic stand on the edge of the structure, defending his strategic position with indomitable determination in the face of the desperate charge and killing 3 of the enemy before he fell, mortally wounded. By his dauntless fighting spirit, unrelenting aggressiveness and forceful leadership throughout 3 days of unremitting, violent battle, 1st Lt. Bonnyman had inspired his men to heroic effort, enabling them to beat off the counterattack and break the back of hostile resistance in that sector for an immediate gain of 400 yards with no further casualties to our forces in this zone. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
/S/HARRY S. TRUMAN
Kim West Righetti says
I am so glad that your loved one Lt. Bonnyman has returned to your family. My Dad was on Tarawa also. Both are safe in heaven. You’ll see him some day.
Clay Bonnyman Evans says
Thank you, Kim!
Sally Leader says
Is the burial for family only? If public, can you provide an address for parking/shuttle service? I apologize if the information is listed and I missed it. It would be an honor to attend.
Clay Bonnyman Evans says
I’m sorry I missed this until now, Sally; I hope you were able to attend.
Margaret Brewster Randell says
I know my brother Stanley Brewster wrote something but I also wanted to write something. Our father was one of the Lt.’s troops. There were 4 of us children. We all grew up hearing about him. My Dad spoke so highly and reverently about him. I know my Dad is smiling down from heaven knowing he is going home. Semper Fi Marine!
Stanley Brewster says
I honestly cannot tell you how old I was the first time I heard Lt Bonnymans name mentioned in my home growing up in Idaho. But I can tell you it was fairly often and always with reverence.
My late father, Ruben Brewster, was one of Bonny’s Boys and with him on Tarawa. If my dad was still alive he would be celebrating his 94th birthday this weekend on the 30th … and probably in Knoxville. This would have made him happy and he would have wanted to be there.
Clay Bonnyman Evans says
Thank you so much, Stanley and Margaret. I love hearing from the families of men who knew my grandfather.
I have been working on a book about Sandy Bonnyman for several years. I wonder if either of you might be interested in chatting with me sometime about what you remember hearing from your father. I will send you an email.