Princetonians of all generations should be proud of the thorough research and dedication of Michael Goldstein ’78, who not only has identified Princeton’s Medal of Honor recipients but also described their actions in combat. His recent article, “The Medal of Honor” (feature, Nov. 3), and a previous article, “Issue in Doubt” (cover story, May 13, 2009) are important historical vignettes that should stimulate the interest of alumni and particularly undergraduates.
As Goldstein describes, during the Pacific campaign of World War II, the initial Marine amphibious landing was carried out at a small atoll, Tarawa, where 1st Lt. Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman ’32’s heroism shone so brightly. As the officer in charge of protecting equipment and supplies on the beach, he voluntarily joined combat troops attempting to destroy a large Japanese bunker. After organizing a team of 20 Marines, he led them up the camouflaged bunker, dropped dynamite charges down the ventilation shafts, and killed fleeing enemy soldiers. He was shot by a sniper. As Goldstein points out, Bonnyman could have avoided the action by remaining on the long pier leading from the beach but chose “to get the job done,” in Marine parlance.
In addition, Goldstein has reported on efforts of the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Services committees to locate and return home the remains of Marines that still are unaccounted for on Tarawa, a noble and honorable task for which we warmly commend him.