About the book


Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II

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 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.




About the author

Clay Bonnyman Evans has been a journalist and writer for more than three decades, having worked for such publications as the Los Angeles TimesOrange County Register and Daily Camera (Boulder, Colorado).

He is the author of three previous books and hundreds of stories for such publications as Princeton Alumni Weekly, New Mexico Magazine, the Denver Post, Occidental MagazineMarathon & Beyond, Trail Runner, the Coloradan, and others.

Evans is the only living grandson of Marine 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, Jr., who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after he was killed in action on the tiny central Pacific atoll of Tarawa on November 22, 1943. Learn more

Starting in 2010, Evans became a volunteer with the nonprofit organization History Flight, Inc., in its search for hundreds of Marines buried on Tarawa in 1943 and never recovered.

He was present in May and June 2015 when a History Flight archaeological team located and recovered his grandfather’s remains, in a trench alongside those of more than forty other Marines killed on Tarawa. Evans arranged for three days of memorial events for the burial, with full military honors, of Lt. Bonnyman in his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee on September 27, 2015.

Evans lives with his wife in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and Boulder, Colorado.

``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 the # 1 New York Times-bestseller, 'Flags of Our Fathers'

SomeReviews of Clay Bonnyman Evans' books

  • "Clay Evans' 'I See By Your Outfit' is the real McCoy, a full-bodied memoir of Western life that doesn't shy away from diffficult truths, but rather places them carefully in the context of what it means to make a living in the cowboy tradition today. Packed with emotional truth and honesty, his story resonates long after the last page is turned. I highly recommend it."

    John Anderson, Amazon reviewer
    Risotto Co
  • "I've read 'The Christmas Witch' several times to my granddaughter. ... The illustrations blend perfectly with the story of a little boy who visits a neighbor's home, rather out of sorts, and returns to his own with the Christmas/Hanukkah spirit. What a treasure to have as part of our home library."

    Rebecca Frost, Amazon reviewer
    Risotto Co
  • "'Bones of My Grandfather' is a labor of love and longing, beautifully written and evocative of both past and present."

    Jennifer Knerr, associate publisher, Paradigm Publishers
  • "If you don’t read [Bones of My Grandfather] you do yourself a disservice as an American. My father and uncles all served in combat roles in WW2. This is one of the best books I have ever read. Lt. Bonnyman is a true legend and this book brings him to life. I could not put it down. This should be a film."

    Michael C. Roach, Amazon reviewer
    This should be a film
  • "What a great book! The author’s many years of research and skill as a writer resulted in a VERY interesting story! Such a personal, up close and very real depiction of a real American hero. Alexander Bonnyman would be proud of his grandson’s work in this book!"

    Leroy Kisling, Jr., Amazon reviewer and son of a Tarawa veteran
    What a great book!
  • "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."

    Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame and Top 100 reviewer
  • “Like Flags of Our Fathers, this book reveals the twists that the truth can take on its way to becoming history, and how respect for a man’s sacrifice only deepens when the mythology is brushed away. Bonnyman Evans provides an engrossing, highly readable account of his quest to find his grandfather, literally and figuratively. Outstanding work.”

    Gregory A. Freeman, bestselling author of The Forgotten 500, Gathering Wind, The Wooden Horse, and others
    Outstanding work
  • “Filled with mystery, adventure, and poignant reflection, Bones of My Grandfather is an unforgettable story of courage, sacrifice, and family."

    Wil S. Hylton, author of 'Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II'
  • "'Bones of My Grandfather: Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II' is the riveting story of the author's search for the body of his grandfather, a Marine who was killed in the brutal fighting at Tarawa and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Journalist Clay Evans spent years researching his family's history and military archives, interviewing Marines who were in the battle, and fighting bureaucracy to learn the truth about his grandfather's life, what happened to him in his final moments, and where his body lay. Both touching and dramatic, the book should be nominated for a National Book Award."

    Bruce Leaf, Amazon reviewer
    Should be nominated for the National Book Award

Contact usAsk Your Questions

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message