Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sidebar: The past catches up to the present

What is beneath that man-made hill in the photograph is a concrete/timber/coral reinforced bunker and command post on the Pacific Ocean island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands as it looked in November 1943. First Lieutenant Alexander Bonnyman is said to be among those at the pinnacle of the hill as he and other Marines with the 2nd Marine Division storm the Japanese stronghold. A photograph of Bonnyman is inset at the upper right. Bonnyman died during that assault, and received one of four Medals of Honor awarded for heroic action at Tarawa. The bodies of Bonnyman and thirty-five other "lost" Marines have just been located on the island after years of persistent searching. A link to copy and paste which leads to details regarding the search for and the discovery of the bodies is included below. It is a fascinating story, especially because it involves a father, a brother and finally a grandson who never quit the search for Lt. Bonnyman. The photograph was taken on the second day of the battle by Marine Corps Warrant Officer Obie Newcomb, Jr.

Semper Fi .... in memorial & in mystery

This was before my Marine Corps time, but any time since the beginning of the Corps is my time, too, in a symbolic sense if not an actual sense. More than a thousand Marines were killed and more than two thousand wounded during the three-day ordeal which was Tarawa, and all but a handful, nearly five thousand, of the island defenders were killed.

I used to have dreams about this place when I was a boy, this battle at Tarawa in November 1943. My dreams took me to the library and books there are how I began to learn about it. I have mentioned these dreams in past posts. I have read new books about the battle when they are published and watched television documentaries, and I even have met and talked with a few guys who were there.

It is experiences such as these inexplicable dreams from my boyhood which always circle me back to William Shakespeare and to the words of Hamlet: "There are more things ...."

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