Fallen Marine’s family grateful for Knoxville’s hospitality

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A fallen marine was laid to rest in Knoxville Sunday, seven decades after he was killed in action during World War II.

Marine First Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr., died in 1943 and was buried on a battlefield on the island of Tarawa, but his family fought to have him buried in east Tennessee.

Clay Bonnyman Evans, the grandson of marine Lt. Bonnyman Jr., tells WATE 6 On Your Side honoring his grandfather this past weekend is a memory he’ll never forget.

“It’s indescribable, everything that happened here was everything I wanted it to be and more…Absolutely all worth it, every effort and it wasn’t always easy you know,” he said.

Bonnyman Evans said his family has been trying to bury the World War II hero in Knoxville for more than seven decades and Sunday afternoon it finally happened.

“I just feel like we’ve done a good thing not just for my grandfather but for this community and my family,” said Bonnyman Evans.

It’s been a long three days for the family. On Friday Lt. Bonnyman Jr’s remains were flown back to the U.S. and then to Knoxville. Yesterday, they honored him with a memorial in World’s Fair Park and Sunday was his funeral, a group of events the family is grateful for.

“We got the feeling from this community and even this state and beyond that people have great respect for my grandfather but also they just extend that to all who have sacrificed in battle you know,” said Bonnyman Evans.

He says that hospitality from Knoxville is greatly appreciated. That’s why Bonnyman Evans knows in his heart this is the perfect place for his grandfather to rest in peace.

Bonnyman Evans is working on a book about his grandfather’s life and he expects it to be completed next month. After that, he plans to seek publishers and have the book released within the next year and a half.

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