Remains of Marines located in Gilbert Islands

Marines storm Tarawa. Gilbert Islands. November 1943. WO Obie Newcomb, Jr. (Marine Corps) Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #: 127-N-63458 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1179

Marines storm Tarawa.  Gilbert Islands.  November 1943. WO Obie Newcomb, Jr. (Marine Corps) Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #:  127-N-63458 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #:  1179

Remains of Marines which had been lost, have been located on the island of Betio in the Pacific’s Gilbert Islands.

The remains have been found as part of a joint US military and charity initiative to find and retrieve as many remains of soldiers who lost their lives during World War Two. Thousands were killed in action during the Pacific theatre of war and many were buried in mass grave sites on the islands, rather than being shipped home to the US.

The family of First Lieutenant Alex Bonnyman had been searching for his remains since they were notified that he had been killed in action in 1943. His parents began their search pushing the US military to bring his remains home. Then over the years his family continued to try to find out exactly what happened.

Now the remains have been located in a mass grave. Alex’s skeleton has been identified since he had several gold fillings that were still in his mouth when the archaeological team found him. His remains are now being excavated and returned to the US so that he can have a full military funeral.

When Alex died he left behind his wife and a 12 year old daughter. They went to Washington to receive the Medal of Honor on his behalf just after he died. The Medal of Honor is America’s highest military honor and was awarded to Alex for his bravery in the Pacific.

Alex led his squadron in the Battle of Tarawa, where they made it ashore and continued to make their way across the island to defeat occupying-Japanese forces. Military records show that Alex led his men to a Japanese strong-hold that was causing the US troops many losses. They targeted the enemy position for about a day, before making a direct assault on the 150 Japanese soldiers, the Fox News reports.

They threw grenades and explosives into the position making most of the Japanese to evacuate the position and they could then be shot by US troops. Alex got into a hand to hand fight with some of the Japanese when he was killed.

Alex’s remaining family from Boulder County are going to have Alex’s remains buried in their family plot.