Skip to Main Content

Bones of My Grandfather

Reclaiming a Lost Hero of World War II

Published by Skyhorse
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

“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 New York Times #1 bestseller Flags of Our Fathers

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 and reclaim 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

Product Details

  • Publisher: Skyhorse (March 16, 2021)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781510760110

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

“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 New York Times #1 bestsellers Flags of Our Fathers and True Compass, along with No One Cares About Crazy People and others

I don’t know when I have been so moved by a book. Clay Bonnyman Evans takes us on an exciting and unforgettable journey as he searches for the remains of the grandfather and WWII hero he never knew and unexpectedly finds parts of himself. He is a master story teller. Bones of My Grandfather is not to be missed.”—Margaret Coel, author of the New York Times bestselling Wind River Mystery series

"Clay Bonnyman Evans has crafted a tremendous book, intertwining the story of his heroic grandfather, a Medal of Honor recipient lost for more seven decades under the sands of Tarawa, with his own dogged efforts to find and bring him home. Part war history, family memoir, and travelogue, Bones of My Grandfather is an absolute triumph."—James M. Scott, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist Target Tokyo and Rampage

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

Filled with mystery, adventure, and poignant reflection, Bones of My Grandfather is an unforgettable story of courage, sacrifice, and family."—Wil S. Hylton, New York Times Magazine contributing writer and author of Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II

Beautifully written. Clay Bonnyman Evans expertly weaves the quest to learn who his grandfather was and the truth about the posthumously awarded Medal of Honor with the current day search for his grandfather’s remains. The result is a seamless, well researched story of discovery. Evans uncovers the man behind the legend – his strengths and flaws. Evans’ relentless pursuit of truth removes the shadow from his grandfather’s legacy. His candor reveals that the devastation of war wasn’t limited to the battlefield but ripped into the heart of his family, destroying lives here at home. And finally, Evans openly discusses the frustration of dealing with competing government agencies whose focus isn’t always on accomplishing the job at hand.
Shining a light on the long forgotten battle of Tarawa, this is a must read for anyone interested in the Pacific theater of WWII.”—Jonna Dolittle Hoppes, author of Calculated Risk and Just Doing My Job, and granddaughter of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle

“Deftly written and meticulously researched, Bones of My Grandfather is first and foremost a poignant and unvarnished story of family that reaffirms a hero’s standing and against all odds brings him home to a final resting place of well-deserved honor.”—Walter R. Borneman, author of The Admirals and MacArthur at War

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images