Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II

Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II

by Clay Bonnyman Evans


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“War, reclamation, and what Tim O'Brien called "the Lives of the Dead" are eternal literary themes for men. Clay Bonnyman Evans has honored that lineage with this masterful melding of military history and personal quest.”—Ron Powers, co-author of New York Times #1 bestsellers Flags of Our Fathers and True Compass, along with No One Cares About Crazy People and others

In November 1943, Marine 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, Jr. was mortally wounded while leading a successful assault on a critical Japanese fortification on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor. The brutal, bloody 76-hour battle would ultimately claim the lives of more than 1,100 Marines and 5,000 Japanese forces.
But Bonnyman's remains, along with those of hundreds of other Marines, were hastily buried and lost to history following the battle, and it would take an extraordinary effort by a determined group of dedicated civilians to find him.
In 2010, having become disillusioned with the U.S. government's half-hearted efforts to recover the "lost Marines of Tarawa," Bonnyman's grandson, Clay Bonnyman Evans, was privileged to join the efforts of History Flight, Inc., a non-governmental organization dedicated to finding and repatriating the remains of lost U.S. service personnel. In Bones of My Grandfather, Evans tells the remarkable story of History Flight's mission to recover hundreds of Marines long lost to history in the sands of Tarawa. Even as the organization begins to unearth the physical past on a remote Pacific island, Evans begins his own quest to unearth the reclaim the true history of his grandfather, a charismatic, complicated hero whose life had been whitewashed, sanitized and diminished over the decades.
On May 29, 2015, Evans knelt beside a History Flight archaeologist as she uncovered the long-lost, well-preserved remains of of his grandfather. And more than seventy years after giving his life for his country, a World War II hero finally came home.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781510730618
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 190,351
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Clay Bonnyman Evans is a native of Colorado. After a first try at college, he spent seven years working as a cowboy before returning to his first love, journalism. He has worked for the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, and Daily Camera (Boulder, Colorado), and other publications. He is the author of three previous books, a memoir about his cowboy days, a children’s book, and a history of an iconic Colorado store, and has published hundreds of freelance stories in dozens of publications. He lives with his wife in Hilton Head Island and Boulder, and enjoys dogs, running, bicycling, and long-distance hiking.

Table of Contents

Prologue: January 1944 vii

1 Unknown Hero 1

2 Unknown Island 14

3 Paradise Lost 22

4 Restless Spirit 35

5 Render Up the Bodies 44

6 First Landing 54

7 Disillusionment and Doubt 70

8 Rough and Ready 84

9 Digging Deeper 94

10 Proud to Claim the Title 106

11 Bitter Pills 118

12 Bone Show 128

13 Inferno 138

14 Kaleidoscope 149

15 Requiem 160

16 Seventy Years and Counting 167

17 Left Behind 178

18 Striking Gold 194

19 Ripples 208

20 Tender Hands 217

21 Conspicuous Gallantry 230

22 To Home Soil Waiting 238

Afterword 251

Acknowledgments 254

Works Consulted 258

Endnotes 267

Index 286

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Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clay Bonnyman Evans masterfully takes the reader on a thrilling race against time to locate skeletal remains of Tarawa's heroes killed in action and left behind on Betio Island. Every conceivable obstacle arises - passing of eyewitnesses, development and overpopulation around and above Tarawa’s battlefield gravesites, maddening governmental red tape and turf fighting. As the search hones in on its intended goal, it's apparent that Clay is on much more than a quest for bones. He is on a quest to be found worthy of the sacrifice each grave represents, especially that of his grandfather. Bones of My Grandfather shines an illuminating light on Marine war hero, 1st Lt “Sandy” Bonnyman, and the present-day selfless American citizens (bravo Mark Noah and History Flight!) who ensure his sacrifice and that of his fellow Marines are not forgotten. Bones of My Grandfather joins the ranks of the most meaningful of war books in that it shows war’s actions are not limited to battlefields. Long after the guns go silent, war’s consequences ripple out and crash into family members young and old. I had extremely high hopes and expectations for Bones of My Grandfather; Clay wrote a fantastic book that surpassed them all.