On September 11, 2001, the world witnessed a tragedy when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Amidst the chaos and confusion, one man stood out for his bravery and selflessness – Rick Rescorla.
Rick Rescorla was the director of security for Morgan Stanley and had already survived the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He knew the potential dangers and immediately recognized the gravity of the situation. Determined to save lives, Rescorla courageously searched for survivors on the 10th floor of the tower.
Born in the UK in 1939, Rescorla had a distinguished military career, serving in both the British and US army. In 1985, he relocated to New Jersey and commuted to his World Trade Center office every day. He was an experienced veteran who understood the importance of preparedness.
After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Rescorla requested that Morgan Stanley employees start working at a less vulnerable location in New Jersey. However, due to the company’s lease, no move was possible. Undeterred, Rescorla worked on creating safety protocols and mandated comprehensive evacuation drills.
Despite initial resistance from some employees, Rescorla was adamant about being prepared for worst-case scenarios. Little did everyone know that his preparations would be necessary on that fateful day in 2001.
On September 11, 2001, Rescorla’s preparations proved crucial. As the twin towers were struck by hijacked planes, he took charge and guided the Morgan Stanley employees. Despite the building losing power and swaying from the explosion, Rescorla maintained order and provided reassurance.
Thousands of employees followed Rescorla’s lead as they descended the dark stairwell. In a moment of bravery and solidarity, Rescorla began singing songs that had resonated with his soldiers during the Vietnam War. He was determined to keep spirits high and ensure everyone made it out safely.
During the chaos, Rescorla managed to contact his friend Dan Hill. Both were aware of the terrorists’ intent to bring down the towers. Hill urgently begged Rescorla to leave the building, but Rescorla refused. He had a responsibility to take care of the people under his charge.
Tragically, minutes later, the south tower collapsed with Rescorla still inside. However, his actions saved the lives of over 2,600 Morgan Stanley employees. Rescorla had ignored the Port Authority’s recommendation to remain at their desks and instead implemented his comprehensive plan.
The heroic actions of Rick Rescorla on September 11, 2001, prevented an even greater loss of life. His story of bravery and selflessness serves as a reminder of the true heroes that emerged during that tragic day.
In 2002, an article in The New Yorker recounted the details of Rescorla’s final day. This article was later turned into a book, ensuring that Rescorla’s legacy and heroism would not be forgotten.
One of Rescorla’s former comrades paid tribute to him, saying, “We lost one of the best men we’ve ever known. For those of you who don’t know Rick Rescorla, he was a warrior, a leader, and a friend. He was the bravest man I ever saw.”
On this day of remembrance, we send our prayers to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and their families. Rick Rescorla’s story reminds us of the resilience and heroism that emerged from that tragic day.
If you found this story moving, you may also be interested in reading about Albert Ogletree, a cafeteria worker who was killed on 9/11 and how his photo was finally added to a museum’s memorial.