Skip to comments.Remembering Rick Rescorla: a hero on 9/11
Posted on 09/10/2011 11:52:29 AM PDT by mgiorgino
Ten years ago on 9/11, Rick Rescorla was on duty on the 44th floor of the World Trade Center, tower two. He was vice president for corporate security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., and a jumbo jet had just plowed into the other tower.
(Excerpt) Read more at sddt.com ...
Rescorla ordered an immediate evacuation, saving more than 2,700 people before the second plane plowed into tower two.
Rick Rescorla was born in Cornwall, England, in 1939. After service in the British armed forces, he earned a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army. Rescorla volunteered to fight in Vietnam. He fought with the 7th Cavalry Regiment (Airmobile) in the 1965 Battle of Ia Drang. He was the gritty soldier pictured on the cover of We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young. Co-author Lt. Gen. Harold Moore described him as the best platoon leader I ever saw. Rescorlas men called him Hard Core for his extraordinary courage in battle.
The History Channel has a chilling documentary about Rescorla called The Man Who Predicted 9/11. It tells how in 1992, Rescorla warned the Port Authority about the possibility of a truck bomb attack in the unguarded basement of the World Trade Center. He was ignored. When terrorists tried to bring down the Twin Towers with a truck bomb in 1993, Rescorla took charge of the evacuation and was the last man out.
Rescorla then warned Morgan Stanley that the terrorists would return to finish the job next time with aircraft. He said they should move their corporate headquarters to a safer location in New Jersey. The companys lease in Manhattan did not end until 2006, and they failed to heed his warning.
Rescorla did the next best thing: He prepared for another attack. At his insistence, all employees, including senior executives, participated in full-blown, no-notice emergency evacuation drills every three months. High-powered stock brokers complained about being yanked away from their million-dollar deals to trudge down 40 stories. But it all paid off on 9/11.
At 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 struck tower one. Rescorla sprang into action and had most of Morgan Stanleys 2,700 employees and hundreds of visitors safely out of the building before United Airlines Flight 175 hit tower two at 9:02 a.m.
Rescorla loved his adopted county. As thousands marched down to safety, he sang God Bless America over a bullhorn and encouraged everyone to be proud to be an American. The last voice many heard as they descended from tower two was Rescorla singing his version of the song from the movie Zulu:
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady; It cannot be ever said ye for the battle were not ready; Stand and never yield!
A Morgan Stanley director told Rescorla he had to get out, too.
As soon as I make sure everyone else is out, Rescorla said.
In his last call to his wife, Susan, Rescorla said, "Stop crying, I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I've never been happier. You made my life."
Rescorla was last seen heading back up to rescue stragglers. His remains have never been recovered.
In the years since 9/11, neither Congress nor any president has ever paid formal tribute to Rescorla's heroism. So in 2009, Americas Medal of Honor holders awarded Rescorla their Above & Beyond Citizen Medal. In their words, Inside of us all, a hero lies. For some, it rises up and shows itself through an extraordinary act of courage and selflessness. On the battlefields of their everyday lives, these incredible individuals are moved to act. And so they go willingly, selflessly, courageously above and beyond.
I first read the amazing story of Rick Rescorla in Heart of a Soldier by James B. Stewart (Simon & Schuster, 2002). The San Francisco Opera has transformed Stewarts book into an opera, which will premiere on Sept. 10, 2011, the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Imagine the pride that Susan Rescorla will experience as the music rises higher, ever higher with each crescendo, soaring up to the ultimate triumph of love, courage and devotion that Rick Rescorla achieved in his life on 9/11.
Mike Giorgino is a retired Navy Commander and a Gulf War veteran. He practices law in San Diego. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently read “Heart of a Soldier”; it’s an excellent book, and I recommend it highly.
>>In his last call to his wife, Susan, Rescorla said, “Stop crying, I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”<<
If those were my last words I would know my life had meaning and there was ultimate dignity in my passing.
God bless you (as He no doubt has already done so) Mr. Rescorla. And the hundreds of Rick Rescorlas on that awful day.
There can never be words said sufficiently powerful to express the essence of this intelligent resourceful man who answered his calling. He saved many lives. My co-workers. Semper Fidelis, lest we ever forget!
Some say this man was found as high as the 71st floor before the tower fell. He was singing songs (this reminds me of the band that was playing as the Titanic went down) as he led people to safety.
His whole life was like that. What a giant.
I found this on a posting.
Rescorla called in an old Army buddy, who oddly enough had converted to Moslem, to help him determine the weakness of the Twin Towers. Rescorla’s friend pointed to the exact pillar that, if correctly blown would drop one of the towers. It was in fact the pillar the Moslems tried to destroy. At the time of Rescorla’s death he was suffering from prostate cancer. If I remember correctly it was not of an aggressive nature.
Mudville’s Greyhawk has a great piece on Rescorla, http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/000307.html
Quote from RR’s Vietnam experiences: “My God, it was like Little Big Horn,” recalls Pat Payne, a reconnaissance platoon leader. “We were all cowering in the bottom of our foxholes, expecting to get overrun. Rescorla gave us courage to face the coming dawn. He looked me in the eye and said, ‘When the sun comes up, we’re gonna kick some ass.’ “
I thought the unusual nature of the Towers was that they did not have a conventional internal skeleton, rather, it used the “tube frame structural system” that distributed the weight around the outside wall (59 columns on each side of the building and 47 columns in the center core) which allowed for an open floor plan. There were no individual columns that held the whole shooting match up.
It was the lateral trusses that held up the floors that weakened in the heat of the burning jet fuel and gave way in a rapid chain reaction. Nobody had calculated for the sustained heat of the burning fuel.
When the $hit hits the fan, I’d hope that someone like Rick was in every foxhole. In my own, I’d hope to have the ability to emulate his leadership.
I’m sorry, but someone has to say it. With the perspective of a decade, I think Todd Beamer should have stayed in his seat.
If the Capitol building had gotten blowed up along with most of the congresscritters, we’d have had a few months of legislative confusion, followed by a quick emergency election, and wound up with a whole new crop of legislators with the old way of doing business annihilated in the smoking rubble. We would almost certainly not be in our current mess.
I forgot to add....”GARRY OWEN!”
Rick Rescorla was the kind of man all men should measure themselves against.
Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway John Wayne
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