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Clay Bonnyman Evans
Clarifications re PFC Gilman
Tue Jun 12, 2018 13:34
2601:281:8480:2401:e47b:8c5d:105b:8967

Here are a few facts about the recovery of Pfc. Paul David Gilman:

1) Whatever "advanced law enforcement investigative techniques and sophisticated technologies" used by the Chief Rick Stone Foundation, the information that Pfc. Gilman was likely buried in Grave #39 of Cemetery 27 (also referred to as "Row 'A' Division Cemetery #3" and "8th Marines #2, Central Division Cemetery") was published by Mark Noah and History Flight in their 2009 publication, "The Lost Graves of Tarawa," as well as in Bill Niven's 2008 publication, "Tarawa's Gravediggers." The information comes from Pfc. Gilman's "casualty card," and did not require any special techniques to uncover, just some good archival work.

2) Providing Gilman's family with an incorrect report, as acknowledged in the foundation's post ("a biometric match to one Punchbowl 'Unknown'"), followed by a later more accurate report of the location of his remains, based on documents published by actual researchers six and seven years prior, respectively, does not seem to constitute any great contribution to his recovery.

3) Despite language in the foundation's post that evidently seeks to diminish those who actually did the hard work of locating long-lost Cemetery 27 and recovering Pfc. Gilman ("government contractors paid millions to recover remains"), it's surely worth noting that the foundation has not, at any time, participated in any archival or field work leading to the recovery of more than 70 sets of now-identified remains from Betio. This organization, to put it simply, has had nothing whatsoever to do with these efforts.

4) The actual recovery of Pfc. Gilman in 2015 was remarkable and complex engineering operation, requiring excavation beneath a two-story building and substantial shoring to allow archaeologists to make the recovery. In the end, three sets of complete remains and two sets of partial remains were recovered from beneath the building. To date, the DPAA has identified Gilman and 2nd Lt. George Bussa from among those five remains; History Flight, which made the recoveries, also made two provisional identifications on two others.

5) Until 2015, non-profit History Flight, Inc., conducted all of its Betio explorations and operations through private funds.

6) Following the discovery of Cemetery 27, History Flight signed contracts with the DPAA to continue working on Cemetery 27, as well as Cemetery 33.

7) Recently, History Flight signed a two-year contract with DPAA to continue its excellent work on Tarawa, which has resulted in the actual recovery and identification of scores of MIAs since 2011.

8) This kind of public-private partnership has proved highly successful for DPAA, and to imply that being paid to do the hard work of recovery is somehow a strike against History Flight is utterly ridiculous. The work is very expensive, unlike writing (frequently misleading) reports in the United States, then implying you deserve credit for work you did not do.

9) The use of passive language indicating that, "In 2015, Cemetery 27 was discovered," is disingenuous. For the record, History Flight, relying solely on private funding (at that time), located and recovered this site, which had been lost to history since 1943. No other organization or agency participated in this remarkable discovery, and it's repugnant to witness other people and organizations claiming credit and even attempting to raise money based on falsehoods.

Once more, I would simply urge caution when encountering information regarding the Tarawa MIA recoveries of recent years. To reiterate, the Chief Rick Stone Foundation had literally nothing to do with any of these recoveries, nor did the filmmaker Steven C. Barber, who in May claimed credit on "Fox & Friends."

I am an unpaid volunteer for History Flight, and I have worked with its teams in the field. I find it astonishing, and distressing, that people and organizations have so disingenuously tried to piggyback on the organization's incredible work, and I hope that readers of Tarawa Talk, at least, will not be fooled.

Please feel free to email me if you have questions: claybonnyman@gmail.com.


  • PFC Paul David GilmanFoundation, Mon Jun 11 11:41
    “His Lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant…” Matthew 25:21. PFC Paul David Gilman, 8th Marines, 3rd Battalion, M Company, was reported “Killed in Action” due to a gunshot wound... more
    • Clarifications re PFC Gilman — Clay Bonnyman Evans, Tue Jun 12 13:34
      • Thank You Mark Noah and History FlightDurk Steed, Wed Jun 13 06:12
        To Mark Noah, History Flight, and all its volunteers (including Clay), Thank you for your persistence and hard work in locating and identifying the remains of "The Lost Graves of Tarawa." Your... more
      • Thank you for this clarification Leroy Kisling, Jr, Tue Jun 12 23:49
        Clay Thanks for speaking up for all of s who follow this forum. I’m not sure why the repeated postings by this person, but when I see the initial wording: “His Lord said to him, Well done, you good... more
        • Re Gilman clarificationClay Bonnyman Evans, Wed Jun 13 10:26
          Thanks, Leroy and Durk. I have zero problem with anyone celebrating the return of a Tarawa MIA and wishing the family well. What I have a problem with is the consistently misleading way it's being... more
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