Join the force like me: IAF officer's last words to his nephew

Some men are born to greatness. Others carve their path to it. Darryl Castelino is an example of the latter. “I want you to join the Indian Air Force” were the last words his nephew Mariyl heard him say, when the Wing Commander of MI-17 chopper called him on June 17.

The mortal remains of wing commander Darryl Castelino were brought by the Indian Air Force to Nanavati Hospital on Saturday. Pic/Abhinav Kocharekar

Darryl had called to congratulate him for his performance in his class 10 exams, and urged him to work hard in order to join the Air Force, just like him. The pilot of the ill-fated chopper, which crashed in Uttarakhand during rescue operations, obviously took great pride in his work and wanted his nephew to follow in his footsteps.

The Indian Air Force commander will be given a guard of honour at St. Anthony Church in Vakola today. “He had told his wife that he would be back soon,” said his mother Leena Castelino. “I am proud of my son and what he did. He is a martyr,” she added.

The funeral service is to be held today at 3 pm at St. Anthony church. Darryl’s body, which is being kept at the Nanavati hospital, will be brought home for the funeral service at around 1 pm, after which it would be taken to the church for the mass. Meanwhile, relatives and friends have been dropping in to pay their respects at their Vakola residence, and Leena has been taking great pride in recounting tales of her son’s bravery. She recalled that being the only son, the family didn’t want him to join the Air Force, but Darryl wanted to work for his country.

His wife Jyoti, was who equally proud of her husband’s achievements, did not shed tears. Instead, she kept herself busy completing the procedures for the funeral service. The couple had celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary last month. On the occasion, the couple had got a locket made, which Darryl had taken along with him when he left for the rescue operations.

It was this little locket that helped Jyoti recognise her husband’s body. “He had the locket with him when the body was recovered. As he was the only Christian among the 20 killed in the crash, it made it easy to identify him,” said a relative of the Castelinos.The family members are busy making preparations for the last rites of the wing commander, who was fondly known as Castro Dayawan.  

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