NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Barbara O'Brien was just hours old when her father, Lt. Robert Mains left for the war. She doesn't remember him - that's because the first time he held her was the last time.
“My heart started to pound. The plane landed they started to bring the hearse out,” she said. “ I just said, 'Welcome Home Dad' because that's when it really hit me.”
Mains' plane was shot down during World War II, just days before Germany's surrender. American officials weren't able to find his remains until an excavation in 2007. O'Brien received a call just weeks ago from the Defense Department. Her father's remains were identified using DNA.
Now, they've had an emotional family reunion over 70 years in the making. In that time, O'Brien has learned about her father through stories and she's proud to have some of his attributes.
"He was very kind and loving. That's what I heard," O'Brien says. "He was a hard worker."
Mains will be buried with full military honors at Calverton National Cemetery. He may be gone but will never be forgotten.
“I have my father back and now I feel very connected,” O'Brien says.
It marks the end of a long journey home in time for a Christmas that O'Brien has waited seven decades for.