The book entitled, “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young” inspired the movie, “We Were Soldiers” about the Ia Drang Valley battle in Vietnam (November, 1965).
The cover of the first edition of the book had the picture of one of the prominent soldiers of that battle never mentioned in the movie (though as Hollywood does for viewer impact, much of the character of the lead role in the movie, was borrowed from that soldier).
Mel Gibson’s portrayal of Col. Hal Moore had him running around in battle encouraging his men who were under fire. While Col. Moore was an outstanding and accomplished officer and leader, those fearless encouraging tactics are associated with the style of that soldier, Rick Rescorla.
Rescorla (born, 1939) was from Corwall, England. He left school at 16 to join the British Paratroopers. He served Great Britain’s army as a military intelligence officer in Cyprus and as a commando in Rhodesia. In 1963, Rescorla left England to join the U.S. Army.
He graduated from Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, Ga in good timing to be deployed with the 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Division to Vietnam. For his valiant actions in the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, Rescorla was awarded the Silver Star.
In the heat of battle, Rescorla not only encouraged others, but his baritone songs would be boldly woven into the battle sounds. His English chants and songs would get loud in the heat of the battle.
Back stateside, Rescorla pursued his American citizenship, then was hired as the Director of Security for Dean Witter Securities in 1984. He immediately began training staff (officing in South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City) on orderly evacuations and other drills for emergencies.
When Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by a terrorist in 1988, Rescorla warned that the twin towers were a target for terrorism. He was ignored.
In 1993, a terrorist set off a massive explosion in the parking garage of the South Tower. When authorities didn’t take him serious yet about the towers being a target, Rescorla pleaded with his company (now Morgan Stanley, who had purchased Dean Witter) to move out of the buildings. They would not.
By the time the 1st plane hit the North Tower on 9/11/01, Morgan Stanley had nearly 2,700 employees occupying 40 floors of the South Tower. Though the Port Authority announced over speakers throughout the South Tower that they should stay “calm and at their desks”, this time Rescorla ignored them. He began evacuating all 2700 Morgan Stanley employees.
The South Tower was struck as Morgan Stanley staff were already evacuating. Of 2,700 employees, only 13 didn’t make it out. Rescorla was one of those 13.
Survivors reported hearing baritone English chants and songs booming down through the evacuation stairwells in the last moments before the tower fell.
Think About it
The resistance of your ministry to take security serious, is nothing new and not restricted to just faith-based circles. Security is an inconvenience and is not a profit generating activity.
When a life-long friend called Rescorla on 9/11 pleading with him to get himself out, Rescorla simply replied, “I’ve got people to take care of” then the line went dead.
Take care of your people.