Iron Mike – Gruntworks Contributing Blogger
Gather round you bunch of heathens, it’s story time again. Now I know you shitheads have the attention span of a lesbian Pacific Royal Blue Tang and you just sort of limp-dick your way through life wondering why everything sucks for you, but today I’m going to do a little bit of un-fucking your soul and making you just a little more of a man. Today’s lesson is about selfless service, taking care of the man to your left and right, doing the right thing always, and being a man while doing it.
Today we’re going to learn about a real American hero… From England.
Cyril Richard ‘Rick’ Rescorla was born in Cornwall, England on May 27th, 1939. That means he spent most of his formative early years under the threat of Luftwaffe bombers and watching American troops prepare to liberate the shit out of Normandy. Perhaps this is where his early admiration for all things star-spangled awesome came from. His hometown was the headquarters for the 175th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division that spent a year training in England before hitting the beaches on June 6th, 1944. Presumably this influenced his later life choices about coming to the United States.
Rick’s childhood was pretty mundane. He was an average student by all accounts, but an outstanding athlete that set his school record in the Shot Put and boxed constantly. At the age of 17 he left school and joined the Parachute Regiment (that’s Britain’s version of the Army Rangers). After his stint with the paratroopers he joined up with an intelligence unit to go fight communist guerillas on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean. Fresh out of Communists to kill there after the Cypriot insurgency was crushed, he went on to serve as an Inspector with a paramilitary police unit in Rhodesia (That’s now the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe for you mouth-breathers that didn’t pay attention in high school geography class and don’t know that erudite western leftists allowed communists to take over a successful country in the name of ‘anti-racism’). Upon returning from Rhodesia to Britain, Rick found civilian life boring and got a job serving as metropolitan police officer in London. There’s only on problem with London and that’s there weren’t enough commie heathens he was allowed to kill. Rick now faced a dilemma. His life lacked action and purpose; the way it had on Cypress or back in the African bush. After speaking with an American friend that he knew from his days in Rhodesia fighting bush wars against dirty stinking Marxists, he resolved to go take a chance on the American dream…
Namely that meant coming to the United States in 1963, enlisting in the Army at Fort Dix, NJ; and then proceeding to Officer Candidate School to serve as an Infantry Lieutenant trained in the new concept of Air-Mobile warfare. Keep in mind in 1963 there was this little problem brewing in a far-flung corner of the world called “Vietnam” where a bunch of Commies were getting really uppity with the French and America had agreed to assist with a military intervention. Yes, Rick Rescorla – at the age of 24 – left the peace and relative safety of spending his life as a London Bobbie to move to America specifically with the intent on serving in Vietnam as a Second Lieutenant. Infantry Second Lieutenants in Vietnam – due to booby traps, enemy fire, tropical diseases, or ‘fragging’ by some malcontent draftee shithead – had a lifespan measured in days for those of you butterbars that think your life is tough now… Rick was assigned as a Platoon Leader in 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Now I could go on about his many daring deeds and awards in Vietnam; his Silver Star and two Bronze Stars for Valor, his Vietnam Gallantry Cross… I could talk about how he fought at LZ X-Ray (That’s the battle from “We were soldiers” you uneducated fucks) and LZ Albany leading his men through 5 to 1 odds to defeat the NVA in close combat… I could mention that LTG Hal Moore witnessed Rescorla firsthand in combat across the Ia Drang valley and called him “The best Platoon Leader I’ve ever seen.” I could point out that Rescorla’s picture is featured on the cover of LTG Hal Moore’s book “We Were Soldiers Once… and Young” where he’s advancing with a bayonet fixed to his M16. However, this story cannot focus on all of the epic man shit he did in Vietnam or we’d be here all day.
Rick left the Army as a Colonel and went back to school; quickly earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. He then went to Law School at the Oklahoma City University School of Law. He followed his degrees by going on to teach Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina and authored a textbook on the subject. Admittedly bored with this lifestyle COL(r) Rescorla took a higher paying corporate security job at the stock brokerage firm Dean Witter Reynolds located in the World Trade Center. In 1988 after the bombing of the Pan-Am Flight 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland Rescorla immediately recognized the need for more security at the site. He co-authored a report to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey stating that the World Trade Center was a likely target for future terrorist attacks, likely by radical Muslims that would try to destroy it as both a symbol of America and as a central location of much of the nation’s major financial transactions. His report – which identified the parking garage as a likely vulnerable point and called for more security – was ignored.
In 1993 his report came to fruition as a handful of would-be bombers detonated a van packed with explosives in the garage under an exposed central support column. The bombers were followers of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a radical Muslim cleric based in Brooklyn just as Rescorla had predicted. Rescorla followed up this report with another in the wake of the incident detailing that in coming years more attacks against the building were likely, including the possibility of an aircraft being used to deliberately crash into it, he recommended the company leave the building for a different location, but this recommendation was denied. In 1997 Morgan Stanley merged with Dean Witter Reynolds to become Morgan Stanley-Dean Witter and it occupied 22 floors of the World Trade Center South Tower. Rescorla – now in charge of protecting 2,687 employees – insisted on holding emergency evacuation drills every three months, even though his superiors lamented the loss of working hours and often complained about the drills. Rescorla had been in combat in Vietnam and clearly understood the importance of training regularly for the day a crisis happened. If another disaster ever struck, his employees would be as ready as possible. That disaster came four years later on September 11th, 2001 at 8:46 in the morning.
As the first plane slammed into WTC Tower 1 (the North Tower) Rick Rescorla was at his desk in the South Tower and witnessed the explosion. Immediately the Port Authority came over the building’s intercom system and instructed everyone to remain at their desks, not to evacuate, and not to panic. Rescorla immediately set about ignoring that stupid command. The 62-year-old man, recently diagnosed with cancer, grabbed a bullhorn, walkie-talkies and his security team and set about calmly evacuating everyone from the Morgan-Stanley offices. Including the nearly 1,000 employees at WTC 5. His years of regular drills paid dividends during the evacuation. It’s not known if he was immediately aware this was a terrorist attack or if he just feared the North Tower could collapse onto the other buildings where his employees worked, but all that became irrelevant when United Airlines Flight 175 slammed into the South Tower 38 floors above his head at over 300 miles an hour.
When the second plane hit, Rick had already personally led the evacuation of nearly half of the employees under his charge. As people panicked from the trembling building he sang English folk songs from his youth to keep them calm, a habit he carried over from singing for his soldiers in Vietnam.
His last phone call was to his wife, telling her “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.” A short time later a colleague advised him to evacuate as well, his response was “As soon as I make sure everyone else is out”.
COL Cyril Richard ‘Rick’ Rescorla was last seen alive on September 11th, 2001 at approximately 8:50 a.m. in the stairwell of the South Tower of the World Trade Center… headed up. His remains were never recovered. His name is featured on panel S-46 of the National September 11 Memorial. Of the nearly 3,000 employees he was charged with protecting all but 6 (including himself) survived the attack.
His statue is featured in the field behind the National Infantry Museum in Fort Benning, GA where he is depicted advancing forward towards the enemy with a fixed bayonet. On the plinth beneath him is an engraving of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and a caption reading “Leave No Man Behind”. You should go see it if you ever get the chance.
So what lesson should we take away from this? Never stop fighting for what you believe in, especially if that means killing communist degenerates. Never stop bettering yourself by education or physical fitness. Never stop taking care of those you’re responsible for. Never allow complacency or coddling to be mistaken for caring for those in your charge. Complacency is death in any crisis, whether it be war or the middle of a jihadist attack on your place of employment an otherwise peaceful and unassuming Tuesday morning. So, go out there today you young leaders, you junior NCOs and officers, make sure you’re taking care of your soldiers. You owe them discipline and toughness. You owe them the tools and character to survive in combat or crisis. Make sure your teaching them what to do when the world goes to shit around them. Make sure you instill in them the confidence and discipline to act. Make sure you’re always leading by example and serving selflessly. Do those things, and maybe one day you will have the privilege to live and die like Colonel Rescorla.