Birthday: May 27, 1939
Died At Age: 62
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Cyril Richard Rescorla
Born in: Hayle, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Famous as: Army Officer
Spouse/Ex-: Betsy Nathan (m. 1972–1997), Susan Rescorla (m. 1999–2001)
mother: Ciss Rescorla
Died on: September 11, 2001
place of death: Manhattan
education: University of Oklahoma
awards: Bronze Star Medal
Rick Rescorla, born as Cyril Richard Rescorla, was a United States Army officer as well as private security officer of British origin. He served in the Vietnam War as a commissioned officer of the United States Army. He also served in Northern Rhodesia where he was a member of Northern Rhodesia Police (NRP). After his military career, he became the director of security for financial services agency Morgan Stanley at the World Trade Center. In this position, Rick Rescorla anticipated attacks on the tower and implemented evacuation procedures which would ultimately save many lives during the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately, he lost his life while leading the evacuees from the South Tower of Trade Center during the horrific attacks. The legendary hero was later paid a number of tributes for his bravery, spirit, and astonishing foresight. Besides been an army man and a security expert, Rescorla was a writer and lawyer as well. A graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law, he taught criminal justice at the University of South Carolina for a period of time and even published a textbook on the subject. On a personal note, Rescorla was a romantic man who loved his second wife very dearly. He wrote love poetry for her and praised her often. He was a faithful husband and a devoted father.
Childhood & Early Life
Rick Rescorla was born on May 27, 1939, in Hayle, Cornwall, United Kingdom. He was raised by his single mother and grandparents.
He got interested in army service in 1943 when his hometown served as the headquarters for the Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 29th Infantry Division. Young Rescorla idolized the American soldiers and dreamt of becoming a soldier just like them.
In school, he was a sportsman and set a record in shot put. He was an avid boxer as well.
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In 1956, Rick Rescorla left Hayle at age 17 to join the British military. The following year he was enlisted in the army and later on served with an intelligence unit in Cyprus from 1957 to 1960. From 1960 to 1963, he served in the Northern Rhodesia Police (NRP) as a paramilitary police inspector.
He then returned to London and joined the Metropolitan Police Service. After training at the Fort Dix, Rescorla attended the Officer Candidate School and received airborne training at Fort Benning.
Following graduation, he became a platoon leader in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, 7th Cavalry Regiment. He then moved to Vietnam and served under Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore. The duo participated in the Battle of Ia Drang that took place in the year 1965.
The following year, Rescorla left active duty and reached the rank of Colonel before retiring from the military in 1990.
He then returned to America and used his military benefits to study at the University of Oklahoma from where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree as well as a Master of Arts degree in English. He also obtained a law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law.
The retired military officer then moved to South Carolina, and began teaching criminal justice at the University of South Carolina. He taught there for a period of three years.
He then looked for higher-paying jobs in corporate security and eventually joined the offices of Dean Witter Reynolds at the World Trade Center in 1985. Dean Witter merged with Morgan Stanley in 1997, following which the company occupied 22 floors in the South Tower. Rescorla's office was on the 44th floor of the South Tower.
The Attacks on September 11, 2001
On September 11, 2001, at 8.46 am, American Airlines flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Rescorla witnessed the tower burning from his office window in the South Tower of the Trade Center. When an announcement came over urging people to remain at their desks, he ignored the announcement, grabbed his walkie-talkie, cell phone, and bullhorn, and started ordering the employees to evacuate.
He continued to calm them after the building lurched following the crash of a passenger plane in Tower 2 (the South Tower). Rescorla boosted the morale of his men by singing Cornish songs. He even called his wife and told her not to cry. Then after successfully evacuating most of Morgan Stanley's employees, he returned to the building despite fears that the towers would fall. Caring the least for his own life, Rescorla headed upward, shortly before the Tower 2 collapsed at 9:59 am. He was declared dead three weeks after the attacks. His remains were never found.
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Honors & Tributes
While serving in the British military, Rick Rescorla was honored with the General Service Medal.
While serving in the U.S. military, he was honored with a Purple Heart, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
In April 2001, he was chosen to be inducted into the Infantry Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame.
In 2003, Rescorla was honored with White Cross of Cornwall by Revived Cornish Stannary Parliament.
In 2008, a statue of him was unveiled at Fort Benning, Georgia. The same year, Rescorla became an inductee of Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame.
Personal Life & Legacy
Rick Rescorla met his first wife, Betsy Nathan, at the University of Oklahoma. He got married to Nathan in 1972 and had two kids. This marriage eventually ended in divorce.
In 1994, the military officer was diagnosed with prostate cancer and he underwent a surgery to remove his prostate. By 1998 the cancer had spread to the bone marrow. Rescorla underwent treatment, and even used traditional Chinese medicine and meditation.
He met his second wife, Susan Greer, a twice-divorced mother of three daughters and an assistant to the dean at Fairleigh Dickinson University, in July 1998. The following year, he married Greer in St. Augustine, Florida.
Rescorla was survived by his wife Susan as well as his two children and three stepdaughters.
Rescorla was a keen writer and used to write romantic poetry for his wife, Susan. He also took playwriting classes while in New Jersey.
After his death, his wife Susan donated his Lincoln Mark VIII to be auctioned off for charity.
The brave military officer is memorialized at South Pool, on Panel S-46 at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
The Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience awarded by the Department of Homeland Security is named in his honor to “recognize outstanding response to a catastrophic incident and leadership in fostering resilient and prepared communities”.
A 2002 biography of the great military man titled ‘Heart of a Soldier’ by James B. Stewart was described by the Time Magazine as "The best non-fiction book of the year".
Rescorla was the main subject of a 2005 documentary ‘The Man Who Predicted 9/11’. This film was shown on the History Channel in America and on Channel 4 in the UK.