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Hero of 9/11 - Rick Rescorla

When American Airlines Flight 11 hit WTC 1 at 8:46 AM, Rick Rescorla grabbed his bullhorn (the picture at left was taken on 9/11).   Rick was the security chief for Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter in WTC 2.  

A British native, Rick had moved to the United States and joined the U.S. Army in 1963.  He had fought with distinction in the Battle of La Drang in 1965 (depicted in the book and movie We Were Soldiers Once and Young).  In 1994 and 1998 cancer could do no better than the NVA had done in 1965.  Rick Rescorla was still going strong.  

God still had one last job for Rick. At 8:46 AM, on the morning of September 11, 2001, Rick reported for duty.

Ignoring the Port Authority’s instructions to WTC 2 to stay put, Rick implemented the evacuation plan he had drilled into his charges since the 1993 WTC bombing.   He set about evacuating 2,700 people on 20 floors in WTC 2.

Through his bullhorn, Rick admonished “be proud to be an American, everyone will be talking about you tomorrow.”  He sang God Bless America and military and Cornish songs to keep his charges calm, including this one, an adaptation of "Men of Harlech (go here for the audio):"

Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;

Can't you see their spearpoints gleaming?

See their warriors' pennants streaming

To this battlefield.

Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;

It cannot be ever said ye

for the battle were not ready;

Stand and never yield!

At 9:03, United Airlines Flight 175 hit Tower 2 and Rick had the vast majority of Morgan Stanley’s 2,700 employees safely out of the building.  He had done his duty.  

Then, he turned around.

Rick was supposed to be on vacation that day preparing for his stepdaughter’s wedding in Tuscany.  A few years earlier, he had tried to convince Morgan Stanley to relocate their office to New Jersey for cheaper rent and better security, but their lease at the WTC did not expire until 2006. 

Rick went back into the burning WTC 2 to help evacuate more people.  When told that he too would have to evacuate, Rick replied, “As soon as I make sure everyone else is out.” 

Rick was seen as high as the 72nd floor evacuating people and clearing floors, working his way down.  He was last seen heading up the stairwell of floor 10 just prior to WTC 2’s collapse.  

Rick Rescorla’s remains were never recovered, but due to his actions, all but 6 of Morgan Stanley’s WTC employees survived.

Rest in peace, Rick Rescorla.  We will not forget your sacrifice or your example.  We will never forget 9/11.

Visit the Rick Rescorla memorial at <http://rickrescorla.com/>

 

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