Next 5 December for the first time in 36 years the remains of an Argentine combatant buried in the Falkland Islands will be returned to the province of Córdoba where his family lives. Air Force Captain Luis Darío José Castagnari remains lie in a grave at the Argentine military cemetery in Darwin, and in a special ceremony, with members of his family, will be flown back to Argentina.
Argentine official policy has been that combatants buried in the Falklands remain in the Islands, and the Falklands' people with a humanitarian spirit have learnt to live with that. Whether Captain Castagnari’s case means a change of policy has yet to be seen, but the last will of this Air Force officer was that whatever happened to him when he went off to war in 1982, he asked his wife that his ashes had to be buried next to those of one of his children who died at the age of three.
The widow, Maria Cristina Scavarda de Castagnari, who has visited the cemetery in the Falklands on several occasions confessed it was a great relief for her and the family, since each time, at the grave she would ask for pardon for not having carried out her husband's last will. But 36 years later, the time has come...
On 4 December Mrs. Castagnari and three sons, Martin Adolfo, Guillermo Oscar and Walter Rodolfo will travel from Rio Cuarto to Cordoba and there to Comorodoro Rivadavia. The next morning a private flight will take her and three sons to MPA Complex in the Falklands. At the military cemetery a British guard of honor will carry the coffin covered in an Argentine flag. Once back in Cordoba a similar full honors ceremony will take place, adding an Air Force cap, jacket and sword to the flag on the coffin.
The whole operation is done in the framework of the humanitarian plan agreed by Argentina, UK and the Falklands regarding the 122 unidentified graves at the Argentine military cemetery in Darwin, of which 102 already have a gravestone with a full name. The flight of the Castagnari family and coffin is funded by Corporacion America CEO Eduardo Eurnekian, who back in 2004 financed the remodeling of the cemetery and last March the one day trip of the relatives of the identified remains.
Daughter Roxana Patricia will be waiting in Cordoba for the ceremonies that conclude at the Sacred Heart parish in Rio Cuarto where Castagnari's ashes will rest next to those of Gustavo, the boy who died at the age of three.
During the war Castagnari was second in command of Argentine Air Force operations at the Stanley airport and died during the heavy Royal Navy bombardment at almost midnight 29 May. The following day he was buried at the Stanley cemetery and when the war was over former British Army captain Geoffrey Cardozo, responsible for organizing the Argentine military cemetery, took the remains to Darwin. The Air Force captain's interment was clearly marked at Wing A, line 1, grave 14.
Finally the widow of Castagnari said she was most respectful of families decisions, whether they wanted remains of their loved ones back in Argentina, or left in the Islands, or have remains identified or not. If my husband had not asked me I would have left him in the Islands, but his will kept knocking on my brain for 36 years