Remains of Battle of Tarawa commander going home to Tenn.
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It was a solemn ceremony held outside of Borthwick Mortuary. The coffin carrying the remains of 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman was carried outside of the mortuary. The pall bearers, other marine officers, all volunteered for the honor.
Bonnyman was one of an estimated 1,100 Americans killed in the bloody battle of Tarawa 72 years ago. He led a team to the top of a bunker carrying more than 100 Japanese soldiers tossing in grenades before he was hit by a sniper.
Bonnymann was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. But, for decades his remains, like so many others, remained missing.
On hand to watch on Thursday was retired Lt. Gen. Henry "Hank" Stackpole. For him, it's a closure of sorts.
The former commander of Marine Forces Pacific, Stackpole visited Tarawa on the 50th anniversary of the battle.
"Talk to a couple of the people in the village who said we know a place where there are other bodies and so they brought me around to it," said Stackpole.
Stackpole passed on the information.
"We don't want them to be out some area where nobody knows. In all of our services, we don't like to have people lost," said Stackpole.
However, it wasn't until earlier this year the remains of Bonnyman and 35 other marines were found in an area called Cemetery 27 in the Tarawa atoll. They were repatriated there and sent to Honolulu for identification. Bonnyman's remains are being escorted home to his family in Tennessee.
"We were taught at the beginning Marines take care of their own. We never leave a Marine behind and we see that significance today," said Col. Scott Hallstrom. "To have an opportunity to see 1st Lt. Bonnyman here to his family to his final resting place, that's a tremendous honor."
The plan is for a burial with full honors Sunday in Knoxville, Tenn.