World War II soldier returns 67 yearas after fatal crash
Posted: Monday, January 31, 2011 8:01 pm
CLEVELAND (AP) — The remains of a World War II soldier have been returned to the southeastern Tennessee town where he lived before deploying nearly seven decades ago.
A procession, escorted by state patrol and the riders, left Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Saturday with the body of Staff Sgt. Berthold A. Chastain, then went to Dalton, Ga., where Chastain was born in 1916, and then to Cleveland. Along the way people stood to salute or wave American flags.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press and Cleveland Daily Banner reported that Chastain, then a 27-year-old father, and others in his crew on the B-24D Liberator bomber were killed when the plane disappeared during a reconnaissance mission on Oct. 27, 1943.
In 2003 a POW/MIA investigation team learned that a New Guinea resident had found a potential crash site. It took years to find the site, find evidence, and identify the remains. The family was notified in November that DNA confirmed Chastain’s remains had been found.
“It’s a comfort to know finally what happened,” said Tulie Mae Chastain Swilling, his daughter who was a small child when Chastain disappeared. “It is awe-inspiring to imagine that after all these years God has revealed that, where he was found, after 67 years.”
Military service is a familiar thing to the family, said James Clark, a first cousin of Chastain and a Korean War veteran. Clark said there were five Chastain brothers and all served in World War II. Chastain’s brother, Clifford, also flew in a B-24. He was captured by the Japanese, spending two years as a prisoner of war. He’s still alive, Clark said.
A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Chastain’s birthday, at Ralph Buckner Funeral Home. A B-52 bomber flyover is scheduled about 1:40 p.m.
The burial will be at McInturff Cemetery near Birchwood, a short distance from his daughter’s home.
“We were told we could have buried him at Arlington or Chattanooga,” his daughter said, speaking of national cemeteries where veterans are entitled to lie. “But I wanted him close. It’s been long enough.”
Information from: Cleveland Daily Banner, http://www.clevelandbanner.com/
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://timesfreepress.com/
Published in The Messenger 1.31.11