Wing Commander Darryl Castelino KC
Awarded Kirti Chakra for Martyrdom on 25 June 2013
Wing Commander Darryl Castelino of the Indian Air Force, the Uttarakhand braveheart who died in a chopper crash on Tuesday, was a hero even before death. Speaking before hundreds of mourners in St Anthony church, Vakola, Castelino’s wife Jyoti recounted the time spent with him. “We met 10 years ago… He always treated me like a queen and his kids like a prince and princess… I will take care of them as he did until we meet again,” she said.
Castelino, 38, was piloting a Mi-17 V5 helicopter in inclement weather during a rescue mission in the flood-ravaged Kedarnath, Uttarakhand, when it crashed. Castelino had rescued 300 people before he died. The coffin of the deceased pilot reached Mumbai on Saturday in a special air force plane. His body was kept in Nanavati Hospital till Sunday morning before being taken to his home in Diamond Park society in Vakola, Santa Cruz (East), around 1pm where his mother lives.
In fact, his mother Leena was intially against his joining the defence forces, but over the years, Darryl’s heroic deeds made her proud of her only son. He would regularly call her up and describe what he was doing, and she would proudly narrate the same to her neighbours, without actually realizing the dangers his job posed. Darryl was fond of flying helicopters and it was his dream to serve the nation.
Around 300 people, including local politicians, film personalities, relatives, friends, neighbours and air force officers, had gathered to receive his body. Castelino’s mother was inconsolable as she sat beside the coffin. Around 2.45pm, the body was taken to St Anthony Church with Castelino’s wife sitting beside the coffin in an air force truck. Around 4.45pm, his body was taken from the church to Our Lady of Egypt Church’s cemetery in Kalina. Apart from family, friends, and colleagues, CM Prithviraj Chavan, BJP, Congress and NCP leaders were present. Castelino was given a gun salute and laid to rest with full military honours. “It is an absolute honour to have worked with him,” Commanding Officer of 157 unit Apoorv Verma said to DNA, 1 July 2013.
Fr Siraj Pinto, Parish Priest performed the rites at Darryl’s home and prepared for the onward journey to the church where funeral Mass was offered, followed by the burial at the cemetery. Auxillary Bishop of Bombay, Dr Percival Fernandez offered the Mass. Darryl’s mother Leena Castelino (hailing from Kinnigoli, Mangalore), Darryl’s wife Jyothi, son Ethan and daughter Angelina Castelino, sisters Sheryl and Meryl, mother-in-law Jacinta Olivera, father-in-law Clement Olivera, Rony Olivera Padukone, Walter Buthello, Francis Olivera, and hundreds of family members and friends offered homage to Darryl. A chowk by the BMC in his honour has also now been named. The mortal remains of braveheart Darryl were laid to rest amidst tight-security at the near-by Our Lady of Egypt parish cemetery, Kalina, as Vakola Church does not have its own cemetry. Darryl was a keen church-goer, involved in parish activities thoughout his life.