An Uncommon Man
A quote said to his best friend, Daniel Hill, not too long before his death: “Men like us shouldn’t go out like this.” (Referring to his cancer.) “We’re supposed to die in some desperate battle performing great deeds.” And he did.
Rick Rescorla had prior service with the British Army in combat in Cyprus (1957-60) with the 16th Air Assault Brigade, Parachute Regiment. He had been trained as a constable in the London Metropolitan Police force in 1960, and served in the Northern Rhodesia Police Force (1960-63), prior to coming to the States in 1963.
After arriving in America, he enlisted in the Army at Fort Dix and graduated from OCS in 1965. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne, arriving in Vietnam in September 1965. He lead a platoon in Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry in the battle at Ia Drang Valley. (Detailed in We Were Soldiers Once, and Young as well as Heart of a Soldier among others).
The famous photo taken of him on 16 November 1965 served as the cover of several books and as the model of a statue of him in Fort Benning. He was 25 years old during that action.
He attended the University of Oklahoma obtaining a B.A. and M.A. in English and studied law at Okalahoma City College. Later, he taught taught criminal justice at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
He remained active in the Army Reserve until he retired as a colonel in 1990. (Leaving active duty in 1968.)
At the time of his death, he was serving as vice-president in charge of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. He was killed while evacuating people from the World Trade Center Tower 2.
On March 25, 2009, Rick was awarded the Above & Beyond Citizen Medal from the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation for his actions in saving many people, evacuating them to safety from the WTC in which he lost his own life.