Friday, September 11, 2009

Rick Rescorla, Hero: From LZ-XRAY to 9/11

No sleep for 48 hours. Grimy, unshaven, filthy uniform. Canteens loose, dogtags hanging out, pocket unbuttoned, helmet strap hanging. No insignia of rank, sleeves up. Dirty fingernails. His bayonet is fixed; trigger finger alert and ready for action.

Lt. Rick Rescorla, Platoon Leader, B Co 2/7 Cav in Bayonet Attack on the morning of 16 Nov 1965. This is not a posed shot; this is a man moving forward into combat. Eyes forward. Ready.

That is how he was described on that morning in this Photo by Peter Arnett

On this, the 8th Anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, no single person comes to my mind as the symbol of pure selfless heroism as does Rick Rescorla, born in Cornawall, England. At age sixteen he joined the British military. He fought against Communists in Cyprus and Rhodesia. A true British Warrior with no more wars to fight, he went to America, he said, so that he could enlist in the Army and go to Vietnam where he served with distinction above and beyond the call of duty.

It would be at the World Trade Center, serving as Director of Security at Morgan Stanley where Rick Rescorla gave his all in the service of his fellows. He had most of Morgan Stanley’s 2700 employees as well as people working on other floors of WTC 2 safely out of the buildings by the time United Airlines Flight 175 hit WTC 2 at 9:02 a.m.

According to Stephan Newhouse, chairman of Morgan Stanley International, Rescorla was seen as high as the 72nd floor evacuating people, clearing the floors and working his way down.

He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains were not recovered. 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.

He left behind a widow, Susan Rescorla, two children and three stepchildren. Rick was also followed by his mother, Ciss Rescorla, who died the following year, his uncle Trevor Rescorla, who has also since died, as well as many dear friends and family members in the United States and Hayle, Cornwall, England. A memorial stone was erected in his hometown of Hayle, Cornwall, to commemorate his life.

Canadian Soldiers have fought, died and been severely wounded in Afghanistan in the years since 9/11. Like Rick Rescorla, they have sacrificed not for an ideal but for their fellow Soldiers. Let us never for get why we are at war in Afghanistan today. It's not to create a democracy in a place mired in a medieval timewarp. It is to provide a secure environment where ordinary Afghans can prosper and to keep our shores free from further attacks by extremists who would destroy our way of life.

1 comment:

Pattie Matheson said...

Great photo!

Less an "American Soldier" it seems he was more a soldier of the world.