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Marine group honors local WWII hero and Medal of Honor recipient; sacrifice still inspires

8:38 PM, Nov 17, 2012   |    comments
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The Knoxville branch of the Marine Corps League spent part of Saturday honoring a veteran who is their namesake.

The Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Detachment held its annual ceremony at Bonnyman's family plot in Highland Cemetery in Knoxville.  November 22nd marks the 69th anniversary of his death.

Bonnyman was raised in Knoxville. He enlisted during World War II at the age of 33 when he didn't have to. He left a wife and two kids behind.

He saved hundreds of his fellow marines through his actions during one battle in the Pacific on the island of Tarawa.

"Everything this man did was noteworthy. He's the epitome of honor, courage, and commitment," said David Cate of the Bonnyman Detachment.

In November 1943 on the final day of the fight, Japanese troops inside a bomb proof bunker launched a fierce attack against the exposed marines.

Lt. Bonnyman voluntarily crawled to the entrance of the bunker. He placed explosives that killed many of the enemy and pushing the rest out. He lost his life after he helped the U.S. advance and prevented anymore casualties during the fight.

His body remains on the island, but his family memorial is where these marines pay tribute to a man who earned the nation's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor.

The Bonnyman Detachment includes the Young Marines to teach them Bonnyman's story.

"We need to remember our local heroes. We need to pay tribute to them. We need to tell our kids hey here is an ordinary man who did extraordinary things," said Young Marines Director Virgil Young. 

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