Father's WWII remains returned to daughter after 67 years
Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter
CLEVELAND (WRCB)-- The remains of a World War II airman are now back in the Southeast, so they may be laid to rest.
Staff Sergeant Berthold Alan Chastain of Cleveland, disappeared over New Guinea in 1943.
Searchers found, and identified his remains only recently.
Chastain's daughter and grandson drove to Atlanta Saturday morning to escort his remains back to Cleveland.
They made the trip with more than a 100 patriot riders in show of a honor that Chastain's daughter says has restored her faith in patriotism.
"I have a friend who told me, don't think of this as a sad thing, don't grieve because this is a joyful thing," says Swilling.
Now at 74-years-old, Tulie Swilling was just a girl when her father, Berthold Chastain went missing in action during the Second World War.
"It's a lot of mixed emotions," says Swilling.
In 1943 Chastain's family learned his plane was shot down, but they didn't know where. After a year, the Army Air Corp staff sergeant was declared dead. But to Swilling, it never felt real.
"All of these years there's always that thing in the back of your mind, he might be somewhere alive, he might but living somewhere," says Swilling.
It's been an emotional ride for Swilling since her father's remains were finally identified a little over a year ago in the Philippines. That's when she learned his Liberator B-24 plane went down in New Guinea.
"They actually located him and identified him through DNA through his brother," says Jim Clark, relative.
Which brings us to today. With friends and family members gathered around, Chastain's remains were escorted to Cleveland by a more than 100 patriot riders.
"I saw more patriotism than I've seen in a long time," says Swilling.
It's with a mixture of joy and sadness that Swilling watched her father's remains finally return home. One thing she does know, after 67 years of questions, she finally has closure.
"Yes, there's closure now, you know? He's at peace and you're at peace in a sense because you know, after all of these years of wondering and wondering, now you know," says Swilling.
Chastain's burial will be Wednesday afternoon in Birchwood.
The cemetery is only two miles from Swilling's home, because she says after all these years she wanted him nearby.