With Honor: Events set for Bonnyman memorial, funeral

This weekend the remains of Medal of Honor recipient Alexander "Sandy" Bonnyman will be returned to Knoxville. Grandson Clay Evans and one of his daughters, Alexandra Bonnyman Prejean, talk about the World War II hero.

(WBIR - KNOXVILLE) The family of 1st Lt. Alexander "Sandy" Bonnyman, Jr., honored with the Medal of Honor after he was killed during World War II, has scheduled three public events in conjunction with his burial in Knoxville.

Bonnyman's remains were recovered from the Pacific island of Tarawa this spring. He will be buried with honors Sunday at his family's plot in Berry Highland Memorial Cemetery. He died Nov. 22, 1943, in the Battle of Tarawa.

"It's great that he can come home to Knoxville, to his family," Bonnyman's youngest daughter Alex Prejean said Thursday afternoon. "We wanted his body returned to Knoxville because that completes the family plot."

Several military groups will take part in the ceremony. The only civilian group to play an official part in the event is comprised of volunteers who will pull Bonnyman's casket to the grave site on a horse-drawn caisson they personally built.

Previous Coverage: Group handcrafts carriage for Sandy Bonnyman burial

The son of Alexander Bonnyman Sr., the late president of the Blue Diamond Coal Co., and Frances Berry Bonnyman, he was born May 2, 1910, in Atlanta. He was raised in Knoxville and attended Princeton University, according to the website set up by his family. He was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and operating a copper mine near Santa Rosa when he joined the Marine Corps Reserve in July 1942.

Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Sunday, September 27 in honor of 1st Lieutenant Bonnyman's ultimate sacrifice.  Bonyman will be buried at the Berry Highland Memorial Cemetery at 5315 Kingston Pike in Knoxville at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) September 27.  For additional information regarding the Bonnyman arrangements, please visit claybonnymanevans.com.

Bonnyman is survived by his daughter Frances Bonnyman Evans of Boulder, Colorado and daughter Alexandra Bonnyman Prejean of Hana, Hawaii as well as his grandson Clay Bonnyman Evans and granddaughters Catherine Evans Lambert, Alexandra Bonnyman Prejean and Margot McAllister.

- See more at: http://www.tennessee.gov/news/18086#sthash.8fDnIhkt.dpuf

Gov. Bill Haslam has declared a day of mourning and ordered flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Sunday, Sept. 27 in honor of Bonnyman, the state announced Thursday.  He will be buried at the Berry Highland Memorial Cemetery at 5315 Kingston Pike in Knoxville at 12:30 p.m. Sunday 27.  For additional information regarding the Bonnyman arrangements, visit claybonnymanevans.com.

Bonnyman is survived by his daughter Frances Bonnyman Evans of Boulder, Colorado and daughter Alexandra Bonnyman Prejean of Hana, Hawaii, as well as his grandson Clay Bonnyman Evans and granddaughters Catherine Evans Lambert, Alexandra Bonnyman Prejean and Margot McAllister.

Prejean was 2 years old when her father died.

"The majority of the stories that I've heard about him, he was just -- he was adventuresome, wonderful, charismatic, gregarious," she said. "I would've loved to have known him."

Clay Bonnyman Evans was integral in planning this honorable homecoming and burial. He said by doing this, he is honoring not only his grandfather, but also his great-grandparents, whom he came to know through researching family letters.

"It is poignant and just heart-breaking how crushed they were and how hard they worked to try and find their son's remains and get them back to Knoxville, Tennessee," Evans said Thursday afternoon.

His mother, Frances Bonnyman Evans, is Bonnyman's oldest child and was 9 when her father died.

"She had very painful memories of this, and it hasn't always been easy," Clay Bonnymans Evans said. "The battle anniversaries come up and the media comes around. It's painful for her, and I think this was a little hard for her, but I see a light in her, where I think this feels really important to her."

The public events are as follows:

Friday, Sept. 25

Procession: McGhee-Tyson Airport to Berry Highland Memorial Cemetery. Bonnyman's remains are schedule to arrive at 11:20 a.m. at the airport.

Saturday, Sept. 26

  • Memorial service: 2:30-3 p.m. at East Tennessee Veteran's Memorial at World's Fair Park
  • Public visitation of remains; Medal of Honor, citation, photos on display: 3-6 p.m. at East Tennessee Veteran's Memorial at World's Fair Park

Sunday, Sept. 27

  • Funeral service and burial: noon to 1:30 p.m. at Berry Highland Memorial Cemetery, 5315 Kingston Pike, Knoxville
  • The funeral funeral home will offer parking and a shuttle for the public. It will be at the Landmark Center and run from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. No vehicle traffic allowed in cemetery except for family and VIPs


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