Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who Was Lt. Alexander "Sandy" Bonnyman, Jr.?

The Lt. Alexander "Sandy" Bonnyman Memorial Bridge spans the Tennessee River at the Blount County border with Knox County as part of Interstate 140, which locals here call the Pellissippi Parkway. As I've crossed the bridge, I've wondered who Lieutenant Bonnyman was. I have learned that Bonnyman, who grew up in Knoxville, earned the Medal of Honor fighting in the Pacific theater during the Guadalcanal campaign in World War II. According to the United States Marine Corps, Bonnyman took the wounds that ended his life capturing a strong position fiercely defended by the Japanese:
Realizing that the seizure of this formidable bastion was imperative to make the Marine attack successful, 1stLt Bonnyman pressed his attack and gained the top of the structure flushing more than one hundred of its occupants into the open where they were shot down.

Assailed by additional Japanese, he stood at the forward edge of the position and killed three of the attackers before he fell mortally wounded. His men beat off the counterattack and broke the back of the resistance. The island was declared secured on the day of 1stLt Bonnyman's death.