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Heroes names added to Virginia War Memorial for 'giving the ultimate sacrifice'

Posted at 11:08 AM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 11:14:23-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The names of two Virginians who died in the line of duty, including one that was seven decades in the making, were added to the shrines of the Virginia War Memorial Thursday.

"We're very happy when we can do it," Clay Mountcastle, the Virginia War Memorial's director, said.

One of the additions was Staff Sergeant Ben Maxwell of Appomattox, who was killed in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983.

The other was for Private First Class Richard Harris of Henrico County, who was killed in the Korean War in 1951.

Harris' relatives, including his second cousin, retired Army Colonel Mike Harris, were on hand for the addition.

"My understanding of family discussions, he was injured by mortar fire and then died en route back to the United States," Harris explained.

Harris said his cousin was born in Charlotte County. He had moved to Henrico for work when he was drafted for the war.

"My mom and dad went on a double date with him the night before he shipped to Camp Breckinridge -- and that was almost 70 years ago," Harris said.

Harris was responsible for his cousin's name being added after visiting the memorial last year.

"I was just looking throughout the museum and the dedication wall and saw that he wasn't on there," Harris recalled.

Mountcastle said that friends and family have pointed out names they believe were missing from the shrines, especially for the older wars, and the staff work to correct that as it is critical every name that's deserving be added.

"Record-keeping wasn't always perfect," Mountcastle explained. "When the Virginia War Memorial was first established and dedicated in 1956, there were just a number of errors and omissions done."

For Harris, even 70 years later and for a family member he never got a chance to meet, it was a gratifying experience.

"To see that he was recognized for giving the ultimate sacrifice for his country," Harris said.

The war memorial honors Virginians who lost their lives in service of this country since the Second World War.