The Museums of Middlesex (MOM) 2018 film – Homegrown Heroes: Stories of Middlesex County’s Greatest Generation – profiles Middlesex County decorated veterans Raymond W. Burrell and Norton Hurd and family members of Beryl Newman. The filming, interviews and production were made possible by MOM’s successful grant application to, and funding from, the Virginia Tourism Corporation.
The Museums of Middlesex was formed in 2015 as an umbrella organization to link the three county museums for the purpose of promoting tourism in Middlesex. The three partnering museums are the Middlesex County Museum and Historical Society in Saluda, Urbanna Museum, and Deltaville Maritime Museum & Holly Point Nature Park. MOM works closely with the Middlesex County Tourism Department, and its director, Michelle Brown.
This veteran film is just one of the projects MOM pursued in its ongoing mission, using grants, to promote the county’s rich 350 years of history.
Five hours of in-depth interviews were conducted to produce this short film. Southside Sentinel reporters Tom Chillemi and Larry Chowning assisted.
The decorated veterans in the film are:
• Private Raymond W. Burrell Sr. — During WWII, Raymond Burrell served with the famous 761st Tank Battalion, known as the “Black Panthers,” composed entirely of African American men. On November 4, 1944, General Patton sent the 761st on a deployment of 183 days of continual fighting in very harsh weather. The 761st was outstanding, causing thousands of enemy casualties, capturing or aiding in liberating over 30 major towns, aiding in capturing/ destroying 4 airfields, 3 supply dumps, 461 wheeled vehicles, 34 tanks, 131 large guns and a radio station. In 1978 President Carter awarded the 761st the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism.
• Captain Beryl Richard “Dick” Newman (deceased) — Beryl Newman served in the 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division of the US Army. Near Cisterna, Italy, on May 26, 1944, Newman single-handedly advanced on two German machine gun nests, destroying three enemy machine gun nests, killing two Germans, wounding two and taking 11 prisoners. He was awarded the Medal of Honor by General Order #5 on January 15, 1945. He is buried in Remlik, Middlesex County.
• Lieutenant Norton Hurd — Norton Hurd was a member of the “Hell Razors” headed to Guam in the legendary aircraft carrier “Wasp.” He flew in the first group of Navy planes to bomb Tokyo. Near Chi-Chi Jima, Lieutenant Hurd’s engine failed after a battle with a Japanese fighter, which he shot down. His plane crashed into the Pacific. As his plane began to sink, he went into the water with only a life preserver and a whistle. Lieutenant Hurd was finally rescued and returned to the Wasp. Lieutenant Hurd was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, which is given to those who demonstrate heroism.