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Journalist Unearths WWII Story in ‘My Grandfather’s Bones’


“The legend of my grandfather was quite well known among our family,” says Clay Bonnyman Evans. His grandfather was U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr., who grew up in Knoxville, died in the 1943 Battle of Tarawa and posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

“But what's sort of interesting is that we didn't know much else,” Evans says. “There wasn't a lot of detail. Even my mother and her living sister couldn't tell me very much about his life… my mother told me he had been buried as an unknown in Hawaii.”

It turned out that wasn’t true; the military had misinformed the family.

“I just became obsessed with unearthing both my grandfather's story, which really had been lost to history, as well as… finding his physical remains and bringing them back to Tennessee, which is where his parents so desperately wanted him to be buried.”

Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II tells the story of Evans’s search and what he learned about his grandfather’s life.

Evans will be in Chattanooga for a book signing. He’ll be speaking, showing slides and signing books at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, sponsored by the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center, at Barnes & Noble Hamilton Place.

He joins us for an interview.