A military casket that once repatriated the body of a fallen soldier to the U.S. from Germany during World War II has been returned to the soldier’s family in Whittier thanks to a Long Beach antique dealer and a good Samaritan with a knack for genealogy.
Pvt. Elio Nila was killed in action in Germany just shy of his 22nd birthday, his great nephew Harold Vaught of Whittier said.
Over the decades, his repatriation casket ended up in the possession of Long Beach antique dealer Scott McCrorie, who said he purchased it at an estate sale several years ago.
A customer of McCrorie’s recognized the casket was something special and asked if she could do some research on its markings, McCrorie said. Within days, she had found the family.
The casket is now at Vaught’s home in Whittier, and he said he’s grateful to both McCrorie and the woman who tracked him down for making it possible.
Kareen Wynter reports for the KTLA 5 News on May 3, 2020.