Theodore's World: 9/11 Hero, Vietnam Veteran to Be Honored Next to World Trade Center Steel

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September 17, 2009

9/11 Hero, Vietnam Veteran to Be Honored Next to World Trade Center Steel

The Rick Rescorla statue depicts a scene during The Battle of la Drang in Vietnam.....His 'Follow Me' bronze statue likeness.

This photo was taken by Marine Corps Capt. Mark A. Kiehle, on Nov. 10, 2004, during the battle for Fallujah just prior to his battery sending the 155mm round down range in support of Marine infantry.

The ''Rescorla Memorial Round'' headed down range.


Retired Col. Rick Rescorla, a Vietnam veteran who died during the terrorist attacks on 9/11, will be honored with the unveiling of a bronze statue at 11 a.m. on Sept. 17, at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center.

Rescorla, the vice president of corporate security for Morgan-Stanley, is credited for saving the lives of 2,700 people who worked in the World Trade Center's Tower 2.

Seeing the first tower burn from his office on the 66th floor, he ordered the company's employees to evacuate - putting to use the regular evacuation drills he implemented for the brokerage firm's 30-plus floors after the 1993 truck-bomb attack. Halfway down, the second plane hit Tower 2. After getting the firm's employees out of Tower 2, Rescorla returned to the building. He didn't make it out.

"His heroic actions on (9/11), along with his extraordinary foresight and preparation, saved the lives of 2,700 people," said his widow Susan Rescorla.

The bronze statue was based on a Peter Arnett photo taken at la Drang, Vietnam, in 1965, when he served as a second lieutenant with 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. The photo was also the cover of the best-selling book 'We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young' by Retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and Joe Galloway.

The statue unveiling will coincide with the arrival of a steel I-beam from the North Tower of the WTC. The beam, which begins a 1,000-mile road trip from New York to Fort Benning Saturday, is being dedicated to all the men and women of the U.S. Army who have lost their lives since the attacks and the Soldiers who continue to serve, said Greg Alspach, a volunteer coordinator with Iron and Steel-NYC.

Fire Engine No. 343, the New York Fire Department's ceremonial engine, will transport the 14-foot beam to Georgia with an escort of approximately 1,000 motorcycle riders, Alspach said.

A sister section of the beam was given to the U.S. Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Alspach said. In 2010, an additional section will be escorted to Washington, D.C.

For more information, visit

Lt. Rick Rescorla was born as Cyril Richard Rescorla, was born in Hayle, Cornwall. His childhood memories were of commando raids by British forces, OSS operations, and the French resistance. As a youth he read about these events, studied them, analyzed them, criticized them --like a Monday morning quarterback. He was virtually nurtured at the knee of war and special operations.

In his teens he joined the British army, became a paratrooper, then went into intelligence and led a unit fighting guerrillas and insurgents in Cyprus. Then he went to Africa -- Northern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where he fought more guerrillas and insurgents. After that, he joined the London police force as a member of the Scotland Yard Flying Squad. In 1963, he came here to the United States and enlisted in the American Army as a private. In April 1965, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry out of the Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

He was a key figure in the groundbreaking Vietnam War book "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young," which was turned into a movie starring Mel Gibson that debuts nationwide next weekend. A photo of Rescorla, haggard but fierce with his bayonet fixed, graces the cover of the true-life military thriller co-authored by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and former UPI reporter Joe Galloway.

In the midst of battle, the fierce anti-Communist sang old Cornish tunes to boost morale. The men of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry nicknamed him "Hard Core" for his daring exploits. But beneath this platoon leader's steel exterior lay soulful introspection. Rescorla, who later became a military instructor, construction firm owner, writer, lawyer and professor, shared with Moore and Galloway his recollections after the infamous battle at Landing Zone X-Ray in Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley: "We were flown away, but the stench of the dead would stay with me for years after the battle. Below us the pockmarked earth was dotted with enemy dead. Most of the platoon were smiling. Suddenly a grenadier next to me threw up on my lap. I understood how he felt. He was, like many, a man who had fought bravely even though he had no stomach for bloodletting." Rescorla earned a Silver Star, a Purple Heart and Bronze Stars for Valor and Meritorious Service. He became a U.S. citizen in 1967, got married, had children, divorced, remarried and found midlife success on Wall Street as vice president of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. His office was on the 44th floor of the south tower.

Rescorla brought military precision, preparation and intensity to the job. He drilled employees regularly and gave prescient warnings to Port Authority officials that the Twin Towers were extremely vulnerable to a terrorist attack. His advice was ignored. During the 1993 World Trade Center garage bombing, Rescorla ensured that every one of his firm's employees was safely evacuated. He was the last man out of the building. Again, he offered his expertise and advice to the Port Authority. Again, it was ignored. And again, on Sept. 11, Rescorla found himself leading a massive evacuation of Morgan Stanley's 2,700-person workforce -- which occupied floors 44 through 74 of the south tower. As soon as the first plane hit the north tower, Rescorla sprung into action. He ignored the admonition of Port Authority security officials to stay put. A co-worker shot a now-famous photograph of Rescorla commanding his troops with a bullhorn. Employees marched two-by-two down the stairwells. Rescorla sang patriotic songs, and " God Bless America" to keep them calm. "Today is a proud day to be an American," he is said to have told co-workers. Most of Morgan Stanley's employees were safely out of the building by the time the second plane hit the south tower. All but six of Morgan Stanley's workers survived. Rescorla was one of the lost six.

He was last seen walking back up the stairs, in search of stragglers.

Rick Rescorla was the World Trade Center security chief for the financial services firm Morgan Stanley. He anticipated an air attack on the World Trade Center. This is from a 45 minute documentary about him called, "The Man Who Predicted 9/11".



Wild Thing's comment.......

A Shakespeare quote :
"His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world 'This was a man!'"

I have the book and saw the film and have been reading about Lt. Rick Rescorla for many years. Thank God for men like Lt. Rick Rescorla, America has truly been blessed.

There is also an excellent book on Rick Rescorla's life: Heart of a Soldier.

....Thank you Tom for sending this to me.

US Army Aviation
Vietnam 1966-68
US Army Special Forces

Posted by Wild Thing at September 17, 2009 05:55 AM


What a wonderful statue!! And it's about time!

Posted by: yankeemom at September 17, 2009 07:47 AM

What a wonderful story! Rick Rescorla is a true World hero. He did what had to be done, no matter what the cost. Did he think of himself first? Nope-he thought of those who worked there and their families. What a blessing he was.

Posted by: Lynn at September 17, 2009 08:18 AM

It's about time this man was honored, nobody served in his place, he came to the U.S. stayed at a NYC YMCA until he entered the United States Army, he accomplished many things in his brief existence. As an emigre, all Americans can learn from his example.

God's finger touched him, and he slept.
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Posted by: Jack at September 17, 2009 12:00 PM

I am glad that this great man Rick Rescola is being honored and that in many military circles he is not forgoten. He was not born in America but he became an American and fought, lived and died as an American. He was a prominent figure at two historical events, the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

This honor at Ft Benning Ga. will help immortalize Rick. Young soldiers decades from now will learn about Rick Rescorla as they also remember 9/11. The families of the 2700 people Rick saved on 9/11 will aso remember Rick.

Rick Rescorla was a man of honor and valor. There are others like him. Sadly today we hear more about the controversial and dishonorable people. Rick has shown us that irregardless of society's faults and shortcomings there is still a place in America for good people. I think he would have been mighty proud of the recent 9/12 Tea Party Rally and I know he is proud of today's fighting men and women serving America as he did.

Posted by: TomR at September 17, 2009 12:03 PM

Jeff Cooper is/was my all-time, all-around hero. He said, "There aren't many things a man can't fix with 700 dollars and a thirty-ought six." Were he still alive I believe he would substitute "an M198 155mm Howitzer" for 30-'06. I want someone to fire one at my funeral. With a charge of powder that I made back in the '70's, preferably. Is that too much to ask?

A great article for another great American and a picture of a great American gun. Thanks Mark and Chrissie.

Posted by: horace at September 17, 2009 12:03 PM

Well Genreal 'Billy' Mitchell was Courtmarthialed because he had the nerve to say if we didn't prepare for a disaster that Pearl Harbor could be a target from the air.

Rick Rescorla tried to warn the right people in New York and nobody listened until somebody died then they listened but he was hamstrung with what he could do. When the big attack came he was there to do what he could and gave his life in the process. I am sure when he would hold his drills the people were not thrilled with being disruppted, but thank God he did. It helped save more people than we will know.

God bless this hero.

Posted by: Mark at September 17, 2009 03:40 PM

His acts of selflessness saved so many lives. A truly great man.

Posted by: Jim at September 17, 2009 03:40 PM

Thank you everyone, this was such a long
awaited for tribute to this Hero. I am
so glad it finally happened.

Posted by: Wild Thing at September 17, 2009 11:53 PM