American Hero


Rescorla Memorial in Hayle, Cornwall
Image via Wikipedia

Rick Rescorla was an interesting man. Rick was a retired United States Army officer of British birth. He served with distinction in Rhodesia as a British soldier and in the Vietnam War as an American officer. For those who read the book or saw the movie, “We were soldiers once, and young”…he was there (as a matter of fact the cover of the book is a photo of him). The author called him “the best platoon leader I ever saw”. There are mentions of him and his bravery in numerous books about that battle and the war in general. He became a US citizen AFTER Vietnam.

Rick was employed as the security chief of Morgan Stanley in the World Trade Center. Being the warrior that he was, Rick anticipated attacks on the towers and had implemented evacuation procedures and drilled employees on them. This served him well on 9/11

As he was evacuating people from the towers he reminded them “…be proud to be an American …everyone will be talking about you tomorrow”, and sang God Bless Americaand other military and Cornish songs over his bullhorn to help evacuees stay calm as they left the building, including an adaptation of the song Men of Harlech:

“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!”

After he evacuated most of Morgan Stanley’s 2700 employees he went back in to save others. When somebody told him to get out and save himself he said:

“As soon as I make sure everyone else is out”

Rick was killed when tower 2 collapsed. Reports state he was observed as high as the 72nd floor assisting in the evacuation of other people. As a result of Rescorla’s actions, all but 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 2700 WTC employees survived. Four of the six included Rick and three of his deputies who followed him back into the building – Wesley Mercer, Jorge Velazquez, and Godwin Forde. Who are heroes in their own right.

Im not ashamed to say that I get misty eyed when I think about that man on that day. It makes me sad, angry and proud all at the same time. The man was a Warrior, an American and a Hero. There are many not worthy to carry his boots. We should be reminded everyday about 9/11 lest we forget…and frankly its why I get so pissed off at the apologists, the “understand them’s” and the conspiracists. Rick Rescorla is probably one of the best Americans whom you have never heard shameful as that is. Where was the media coverage on him?

An article in The New Yorkerwas published about Rick and his life. It concludes with a statement from his second wife, whom he met late in life, and a reply to that statement from a long time friend of Rick’s who fought and survived in the Ia Drang with him.

“What’s really difficult for me is that I know he had a choice,” Susan says. “He chose to go back in there. I know he would never have left until everyone was safe, until his mission was accomplished. That was his nature. That was the man I loved. So I can understand why he went back. What I can’t understand is why I was left behind.”

Dan Hill says that Susan will understand someday, as he does. “What she doesn’t understand is that she knew him for four or five years. She knew a sixty-two-year-old man with cancer. I knew him as a hundred-and-eighty-pound, six-foot-one piece of human machinery that would not quit, that did not know defeat, that would not back off one inch. In the middle of the greatest battle of Vietnam, he was singing to the troops, saying we’re going to rip them a new asshole, when everyone else was worrying about dying. If he had come out of that building and someone died who he hadn’t tried to save, he would have had to commit suicide.

“I’ve tried to tell Susan this, in a way, but she’s not ready yet for the truth. In the next weeks or months, I’ll get her down here, and we’ll take a walk along the ocean, and I’ll explain these things. You see, for Rick Rescorla, this was a natural death. People like Rick, they don’t die old men. They aren’t destined for that and it isn’t right for them to do so. It just isn’t right, by God, for them to become feeble, old, and helpless sons of bitches. There are certain men born in this world, and they’re supposed to die setting an example for the rest of the weak bastards we’re surrounded with.”

God speed Rick. May the mead never run dry in Valhalla.


5 thoughts on “American Hero”

  1. Thank you for this. I first learned of Rick at a commissioning ceremony for a friend of mine. Joe Galloway was the guest speaker, and told his story about Rick that day.

    It is upsetting how some of the people most appreciative of America didn’t even start out here. Too many sorry bastards (and I use that term literally) who call themselves American don’t even know the meaning of the word.

    I don’t even know you and I like you already.


  2. Thing is… Here’s a guy who grew up with the “British Model” of education and exposure to all kinds of ‘european ideals’ and CHOSE to come to the US and serve this country even before it was his. He gave his best years to the U.S. and became a citizen and then gave his life as a private sector ‘security dink’ guy….

    If this guy is able to ‘see the other side’ of life and still make a personal choice about which side he wants to be on, then why is it so hard for people who grew up here?

      1. Yup. I’ve described this as being a “Citizen” vs. “Individual.” IMO a ‘Citizen’ is someone who recognizes that participation and contribution is part of the responsibility of membership. An ‘Individual’ is someone who benefits from the contribution of other ‘citizens’ but may not see the need to contribute on their own.

        The unfortunate side affect of technology, liberty, and publicly provided education and all that is a lack of appreciation and/or ‘work ethic’ at times. Life is so good that some folks don’t know how to see the work that it takes to make it that good and/or how they fit into that equation.

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