WWII Air Force pilot's remains return home to LA nearly 80 years later

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's been a long-awaited return home for World War II Air Force pilot Ernest Roth, whose remains were identified by scientists last year.

Lieutenant Roth was from West Los Angeles, and he was killed in action 77 years ago. He is survived by his cousin Rose Leotine and her family.

"My aunt never accepted that," said Leotine. "I remember just being very sad and shocked. I can't tell you too much. I was maybe 15 at the time."

Lieutenant Roth's family greeted the plane carrying the remains at the Los Angeles International Airport in late August. First responders and residents across Los Angeles County honored Roth as his hearse made its way to Westwood.

"It was an amazing experience," said Leotine. "The whole thing seemed unreal because after 77 years this is a closed chapter. It didn't seem real."

According to U.S. officials, Lieutenant Roth was 20 years old when his plane crashed. It was in May 1944 during a bombing run over Berlin. In 2020 when scientists identified some of the remains belonged to Lieutenant Roth, thanks to DNA testing.

"He played the cello and he was in the Billy Barty's Children's Orchestra that we had at that time in Los Angeles. He was very nice," said Leotine.

The family said Lieutenant Roth was buried at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

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