These long-missing heroes are headed home.
A group has uncovered the bodies of 36 U.S. Marines, including a Medal of Honor recipient, who were killed during a fierce fight more than 70 years ago in the remote Gilbert Islands.
First Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr. was among the men found in May in Cemetery 27 on the tiny Pacific Ocean atoll of Betio in Kiribati, according to Mark Noah, the director of History Flight, an organization which helps recover military members deemed missing in action.
Noah notes that more than 1,000 Americans died fighting Japanese forces in Kiribati, in the 1943 Battle of Tarawa.
The missing Marines were declared “unrecoverable” in 1949 by the Quartermaster General’s Office, according to the group. But a 10-year, multi-million dollar effort by History Flight culminated in the historic, and emotional, find in May.