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Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II PDF, ePub eBook “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 Nov “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.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    5 memorable heroic stars This Medal of Honor does not belong to me. This medal belongs to every man and woman who has ever served their country. We were doing what we were trained to do. We were doing our job. (Michael E. Thornton) The President, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to our nation's bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration's creation in 1861. This was a very moving story of a man, a grandson, Clay Bonneyman 5 memorable heroic stars This Medal of Honor does not belong to me. This medal belongs to every man and woman who has ever served their country. We were doing what we were trained to do. We were doing our job. (Michael E. Thornton) The President, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to our nation's bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration's creation in 1861. This was a very moving story of a man, a grandson, Clay Bonneyman Evans who desired to bring his grandfather home. His grandfather, 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, Jr., a marine, who fought and died on the small island of Betio in the South Pacific, so valiantly that he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. In this story of his grandfather whose remains had been missing for seventy years, the author and others members of an group called History Flight, after many wrong turns, being thwarted by government agencies, successfully found not only Alexander's remains but those of many other soldiers who were Mia's, or thought to be resting on other places. This book also highlighted the difficulties surrounding returning our soldiers home. Mr Evans not only details his struggles, but also introduces us to his grandfather, a wonderfully charismatic man, who was not perfect but did exemplify the very makings of what is a hero. Alexander didn't have to serve, as he could have gotten out of service because of the work he did. However, feeling propelled to do something he enlisted at the age of thirty to becoming a Marine, quickly rising up the ranks because of his innate ability to lead and foster strength in those under him. At his death, he left a wife and two young children alone, though well provided for. Each family member struggled to come to terms with their loss, some in ways unexpected, however, Alex's father and brother and then later on his grandson always carried the hope of bringing Alex home. The book details the ways in which his grandfather led his life and the way in which he became a hero to many. Mr Evans also highlighted the innate difficulty and the painstaking work that goes in identifying, finding, and bringing these soldiers back home. It was a moving tale especially in light of our soldiers returning home from the Korean Conflict. Looking at those flag draped coffins makes one realize the ultimate sacrifice made for so many to ensure that we here in America enjoy a level of freedom and choice not experienced by many throughout the world. Many thanks to Clay Bonneyman Evans, Skyhorse Publising, and Edelwiess for a copy of this heroic tale of a grandson's need to bring his grandfather home to his family and the country he died for. "The secret to happiness is freedom...and the secret to freedom is courage. (Thucydides) My reviews can be seen here: https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres... It is the 74th Anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa. https://www.facebook.com/marines/vide...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Well, I guess I am a bit of an outlier on this one. It's 3.5 star for the specific information and the life of Bonnyman who at 33 sacrificed his life. And yet I can't round it up for lacks within the telling style. It's probably more me. But I had a difficult approach to reading this in the manner in which it deserves because Clay Bonnyman Evans, the author, kept putting his own personality and quirks and complaints (among other "me" issues) within the copy about his grandfather. I wanted to hea Well, I guess I am a bit of an outlier on this one. It's 3.5 star for the specific information and the life of Bonnyman who at 33 sacrificed his life. And yet I can't round it up for lacks within the telling style. It's probably more me. But I had a difficult approach to reading this in the manner in which it deserves because Clay Bonnyman Evans, the author, kept putting his own personality and quirks and complaints (among other "me" issues) within the copy about his grandfather. I wanted to hear about the hero's birth family, children and of those particulars of service and battle (and the subsequent body "search" of over 70 years)- and not so much about grand sonny boy. But that's just me, it seems. The flip-flop narrative of 1st person chronological time with the reverse answers for periods before 1943 and Bonnyman's short and eventful life? Sometimes that flipping narrative works, and sometimes it hurts. This time it hurt. Too much distraction from our blonde and handsome hero's life of intense personality, vibes of risk and adventure (his swimming pool stories seem nearly suicidal) etc. It hurt the mood for the difficulty for ever locating him upon that coral sand bar space (2000 plus miles from anywhere solid land) and jarred the continuity of the telling. At times I couldn't remember all the aides' and operatives' names because of all the flipping out for 50 intervening pages. His wife, Jo. Her story too and her middle out of three daughters- the one named Tina? Tina was so separated (left to live in another state with an aunt) and IMHO seemed to be rather vilified? Jarring and uneven telling for Bonnyman's immediate family, IMHO. Significant voids. And also as if the author wanted to tell much more in a "gossip type" of regard and WANTED to, but just couldn't morally or legally? It fit his style of snark and exclusiveness (money is no factor in any regard for this entire Bonnyman clan) too. It seems it was very hard to eat as a Vegan on this poor and destitute garbage strewn square couple of odorous miles as Tarawa/ Betio exists today. And the alcoholism and affairs hinted at for the core family? And Tina's death at 40? Just plucked down in the middle of a hero body search titled book? I guess, it's to let you know the "sacrifices" beyond the Medal of Honor conduct and horrific atoll battle sacrifice? Others seem to like this scattered style. I just don't. The search record itself and the results were 4 star. Fully. Especially within those acknowledges and individuals without any connection that have made it a life's work to bring home fallen are clearly described. The book did make me think about decisions and details. And also in a strange way made me alter my sense of "deciding". As much as I'm for cremation- maybe I'm going to change my mind. It also made me pause and remember all my Vietnam dead. Jim is still in his cave. And how I literally got sick to my stomach when I saw an episode of "Amazing Race" on TV where the teams laughing and shoving and giggling ran and screamed in hilarity while racing through American dead cave shrines. I never watched an episode of that program ever again. (They did put a disclaimer/ and half apology on a later show's intro- I was told. Because of the backlash they received.) And it brought to mind some people I have not seen in decades. How some want their beloved's body back under any conditions possible, and some who love as much as remember endlessly -don't care all that much. And it isn't just about religious belief either. It doesn't at all surprise me that the way he died in November 1943 was altogether different than the story told by witnesses to those family survivors and all of their respective offspring. In every war, that's most usually the case, IMHO. In the midst of the book there are numerous photo sheets of family members throughout Bonny's life and some in the afterwards of the memorial after his remains' internment in the USA. Those were excellent- fully 5 star. How a little girl turns into an over 70 lady- it's still hard to comprehend. His portray in uniform is 6 star. Excellent artist. And he sure was a physically beautiful man. I mentioned I was reading this to a male friend of my best friend. He is going to be 80 in a month or two and he told me more about Tarawa. Things that were not ventured in this book. Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Okinawa and ships outside of the A bomb testings- I knew men who talked about them in my youth. And praised Truman endlessly- as we would have sacrificed millions more on those islands and atolls. And the Japanese were training 10 year olds. But I never, ever knew Rich was a Tarawa expert because of a close relative's dying there too. He lived his own life as a barber. See, you never really know how many men paid for the freedom we still own and who are just the "ordinary" around you.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Fugate

    Alexander Bonnyman, Jr., was born into wealth. He had a college education and was a successful businessman. He had several valid exemptions, yet volunteered for service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He enlisted, was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and participated in the battle for Guadalcanal. He died during the battle of Tarawa. He was recommended for and eventually was awarded posthumously, the Medal of Honor for valor. He was buried shortly after the battle on Tarawa and was soon Alexander Bonnyman, Jr., was born into wealth. He had a college education and was a successful businessman. He had several valid exemptions, yet volunteered for service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He enlisted, was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and participated in the battle for Guadalcanal. He died during the battle of Tarawa. He was recommended for and eventually was awarded posthumously, the Medal of Honor for valor. He was buried shortly after the battle on Tarawa and was soon forgotten by all but his family and a few fellow marines. Upon notification of his death, his father began the process to have his body returned to Knoxville, Tennessee for burial in the family plot. Here begins a fight just a brutal, yet less bloody, to have his body found, identified and returned to his family. Mr. Evans has written a fabulous story where the reader is right there, looking over his shoulder in every instance. The reader will experience the pride, sorrow, frustration, relief and joy of both the marines before, during and after the battle, as well as the family for the 70 years it takes to retrieve his body and see it interned in the family plot. I highly recommend this story for anyone interested in World War II, military veterans, or just looking for a good adventure.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenn Fields

    It's a tired cliche that journalists write the first draft of history, but in "Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of WWII," Clay Bonnyman Evans shows why journalists write those drafts, then chase unanswered questions, sometimes for years, to write subsequent, better drafts of history. There are always more answers to the dark questions left in the wake of battle. Through years of painstaking research and half a dozen visits to this farthest-flung of locations — and riveting writing It's a tired cliche that journalists write the first draft of history, but in "Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of WWII," Clay Bonnyman Evans shows why journalists write those drafts, then chase unanswered questions, sometimes for years, to write subsequent, better drafts of history. There are always more answers to the dark questions left in the wake of battle. Through years of painstaking research and half a dozen visits to this farthest-flung of locations — and riveting writing — Evans uncovers how the story of the missing Marines of Tarawa is still unfolding, through the efforts of a handful of civilians searching for their remains. Full review at the Boulder Daily Camera.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Terri Wangard

    A Medal of Honor recipient’s body disappears on Tarawa and his family is told he was buried at sea, in a certain cemetery on the island, and lost forever. Take your pick. Alexander Bonnyman Jr. joined the Marines despite being married, a father of three, and owner of a business critical to the war effort. He was restless for adventure and the war offered plenty of adventure. He died on Tarawa on November 23, 1943. The story of his mortal remains does not inspire confidence in JPAC, the Joint POW/ A Medal of Honor recipient’s body disappears on Tarawa and his family is told he was buried at sea, in a certain cemetery on the island, and lost forever. Take your pick. Alexander Bonnyman Jr. joined the Marines despite being married, a father of three, and owner of a business critical to the war effort. He was restless for adventure and the war offered plenty of adventure. He died on Tarawa on November 23, 1943. The story of his mortal remains does not inspire confidence in JPAC, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. Their mission is to account for Americans missing in past wars. They were happy to use reports made by Mark Noah of History Flight, but refused him to travel to the island because they didn’t want him to take credit. Personnel at the National Personnel Records Center didn’t know to look for his records in the special Persons of Exceptional Prominence archive, as befitting a Medal of Honor winner. What is inspiring is the story of those like Mark Noah who refuse to give up on locating those who gave their all for their country.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Grady

    ‘Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.’ TS Eliot Author/freelance writer Clay Bonnyman Evans lives in South Carolina and Colorado. As a journalist Clay wrote for Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register and Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.) His has published four novels – THE WINTER WITCH, BEHIND THE GREEN VEST, I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT and now this immensely moving BONES OFMY GRANDFATHER. He has also published important articles in the Denver Post, the Occiden ‘Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.’ TS Eliot Author/freelance writer Clay Bonnyman Evans lives in South Carolina and Colorado. As a journalist Clay wrote for Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register and Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.) His has published four novels – THE WINTER WITCH, BEHIND THE GREEN VEST, I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT and now this immensely moving BONES OFMY GRANDFATHER. He has also published important articles in the Denver Post, the Occidental, Marathon & Beyond, and New Mexico Magazine. His journalistic talents are highly respected and awarded and most assuredly add to the impact of this memoir of his grandfather, but even more than his reportage is the genuine family bonding he so respectfully demonstrates in this important and very rewarding book. BONES OF MY GRANDFATHER recounts Clay’s true search for truth. As the back cover of his book summarizes, ‘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 his grandfather. And more than seventy years after giving his life for his country, a World War II hero finally came home.’ A fine synopsis, this, but what it does not convey is the manner in which Clay shares this true story. The fact that he includes many photographs in the book enhances the validity of the story, but the images as with the prose make this a personal spiritual journey. Brilliantly executed, this book makes us all re-consider war and the scars left behind, but it also underlines the devotion of family to truth and honor. This is an unforgettable memoir and exploration of persistence – that war cannot destroy spirit.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I could not get into this book. There was no gripping story - it was more textbook like. I like historical books that read like a novel - this one does NOT! Gave up 20% into the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steve Cassells

    Mr. Evans is an extraordinary writer, and the tale he tells is so compelling I had a hard time putting the book down. When his grandfather, Lt. Sandy Bonnyman, lost his life while leading the assault of a well-fortified Japanese bunker during the bloody battle of Tarawa, the consequences were wide-spread and significant. Along with about 1,100 fellow Marines, his remains were hastily buried after the 72-hour bloodbath and then ultimately lost. Decades later, the grandson, Clay Bonnyman Evans, be Mr. Evans is an extraordinary writer, and the tale he tells is so compelling I had a hard time putting the book down. When his grandfather, Lt. Sandy Bonnyman, lost his life while leading the assault of a well-fortified Japanese bunker during the bloody battle of Tarawa, the consequences were wide-spread and significant. Along with about 1,100 fellow Marines, his remains were hastily buried after the 72-hour bloodbath and then ultimately lost. Decades later, the grandson, Clay Bonnyman Evans, began a quest to discover who his grandfather really was, what really happened to him on Tarawa, and hopefully to finally find and return his grandfather to the family plot in Tennessee. The arm of the federal government dedicated to the task of repatriating WWII dead was initially not particularly driven to recover the lost Marines of Tarawa, and the story of all the bureaucratic hoops that had to be negotiated over many years is a real lesson in persistence by both Mr. Evans and the NGO, History Flight, to return the Tarawa fallen, including Lt. Bonnyman, to their families. This book is not to be missed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin Miller

    This was a really unique book. The topic of MIAs is obviously pretty personal to me, but there aren't a lot of books on the subject, especially focusing on the recovery process, a still relatively new and unknown topic to much of the country. Having spoken to so many families who have gone through this process with JPAC, it was fascinating to read such an in-depth account of it, though it sure didn't paint JPAC in an especially good light. I like the underlying idea in the book of how history po This was a really unique book. The topic of MIAs is obviously pretty personal to me, but there aren't a lot of books on the subject, especially focusing on the recovery process, a still relatively new and unknown topic to much of the country. Having spoken to so many families who have gone through this process with JPAC, it was fascinating to read such an in-depth account of it, though it sure didn't paint JPAC in an especially good light. I like the underlying idea in the book of how history polishes and idealizes our "heroes," and admire Clay Evans' efforts to uncover and share the true story of his grandfather, faults and all. Evans takes something that was very black and white in his family (and the country) and covers it in all sorts of shades of gray. Sandy Bonnyman became a myth to his own family, but Evans shows that the flaws he had in life don't take away from the courageous acts actions that led to his death, and might even make them more heroic. Evans makes the situation even more complex by noting that, while his grandfather's final actions certainly saved many lives, they also made his family's lives infinitely worse. It's a complicated situation, and Evans works hard to remain unbiased and get to the bottom of the myth of Sandy Bonnyman. He does a good job of it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mark McDonald

    Outstanding read. I picked this up because of my love of US military history. It is a great read. I really enjoyed the background and life story of the Prodigal Son. I had no idea I’d be reduced to tears reading the final chapter. The web is spun masterfully and in such a heartfelt and truthful way. I’ll keep and reread this. Parts mirror my own life story. The search for the truth and meaning of Sandy’s life, cause, commitment, and valor was like a Homeric Tragedy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dave Hoff

    A Marine Medal of Honor 1st Lt. killed fighting on Tarawa. He body buried, in unknown grave. Grandson makes a quest to learn more of his grandpa and find his body. Book tells of Recovery Teams, both Govt. and private. The private team, History Flight, bring in expert forensic people and the Govt. team gets it's nose out of joint. Result, slowing the process of bringing Bonnyman's body home. Much history on WW2 , and the early life of the Marine.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nissa

    Completely inspiring! To think that there are thousands of stories of men who never made it back home to their loved ones makes me all the more proud of our military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for family and country. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in American Military history.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    "Bones of My Grandfather : Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II " by Clay Bonnyman Evans is a book not just for history buffs; but for all who have or had family members in the military. BOMG is also about love, determination, and the true story of a legendary hero. I had to read this book twice because it was so engaging and revealing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    Though not often my cup of tea as I am done with ww2 books this one made me want to read it. I like how Evans went in search for the real man who was his grandfather and doesn't shy away from showing the pettiness and corruption within the government organizations tasked with respecting the remains of American soldiers. The author was a great narrator as well.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Traceyjford

    This book contains lots and lots of details which made it difficult to read. That said the book couldn’t have been written without the details. The end result is an insightful story about being connected to a family member one has never met, an attempt to learn about the history of said family member and the drive to bring them home years after they have disappeared.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Thomas

    A well written book that moved right along. A Grandson's search for his medal of Honor Grandfathers remains on the Island of Tawara decades after WWII. Some nice information give about the little known 3 day battle on the island of Tawara. I highly recommend this book

  17. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Davis

    What an amazing accomplishment. To be able to be in the search and ultimately the recovery of his grandfather is amazing. Of course there was government red tape. But I'm glad to see he was able to bring his grandfather home along with many other marines lost on Tarawa.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John

    A well written and compelling story! An easy to read, hard to put down book. I felt I was with Mr. Evans every step of his journey to discover the truth of his grandfathers death on Tarawa and to bring his remains back home.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Fabulous Great read from a family member Loved reading from a family member who devoted so many years of his life securing the memory and remains of a true hero, his grandfather! Past and present intertwined to make a great read!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Will Haley

    Mission Accomplished Mystery, history, and a lifelong quest of Middle-Earthian proportions. This portrait of a hero and his equally irrepressible grandson will stay with you for a long, long time. Highest recommendation.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Leo Mccarthy

    Incredible story, well written & researched.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joy Kidney

    Bones of My Grandfather is the astonishing saga of a marine lost in brutal fighting on a remote atoll in the Pacific, the hole that lost left in his family and their descendants. His loss was in the headlines because his family was well-known and wealthy, but even that didn't help them bring home his remains. Woven among details of the battle are pockets of family history, a grandson's search for answers, the politics of finding and identifying remains, discussion of the War Graves Registration Bones of My Grandfather is the astonishing saga of a marine lost in brutal fighting on a remote atoll in the Pacific, the hole that lost left in his family and their descendants. His loss was in the headlines because his family was well-known and wealthy, but even that didn't help them bring home his remains. Woven among details of the battle are pockets of family history, a grandson's search for answers, the politics of finding and identifying remains, discussion of the War Graves Registration Service, amphibious warfare history, even the politics of awarding war medals--the Medal of Honor had been denied to Bonnyman in 1944, but awarded to him two years later. The black sheep of a prominent Southern family became a mythic hero. I was especially interested in this story as an uncle, Lt. Dale R. Wilson, was MIA in New Guinea three days before Sandy Bonnyman was killed on Tarawa Atoll. The remains of Wilson and the rest of his B-25 crew have never been found. Sandy Bonnyman's remains were eventually recovered and returned, to be reinterred with family in Knoxville, Tennessee. At the end of the book are an Afterword and an extensive list of Works Consulted, Endnotes, and and Index.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joel Kaczinski

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dave Scrip

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  27. 5 out of 5

    Al Fields

  28. 4 out of 5

    LARRY SWEENEY

  29. 4 out of 5

    Floyd Bobier

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul Scott

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