As people anxiously evacuated the South Tower, some remember a calming voice singing “God Bless America” over a bullhorn. The voice belonged to Richard Cyril Rescorla, Morgan Stanley’s vice president of security. Today a white rose placed at his name honors what would have been his 77th birthday.
Born in Hayle, England in 1939, Rescorla served with the British Army in Cyprus and northern Rhodesia. In 1963, he immigrated to the United States and joined the Army. After graduating from Officer Candidate School, he fought in Vietnam as a second lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry from 1965 to 1966. The following year, he became an American citizen.
When the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993, Rescorla was vice president for corporate security at Dean Witter Morgan Stanley and he led the company’s evacuation that day. Convinced that the terrorists would return, Rescorla created and stringently rehearsed a disaster contingency plan for the company, colleagues and family said.
On Sept. 11, he again supervised the evacuation of Morgan Stanley’s employees from the burning building. Among the 13 Morgan Stanley employees and consultants who were unable to exit the building safely was Rescorla. He was last seen climbing up the stairs to make a final sweep for other employees minutes before the building toppled. His actions that day are credited with thousands of lives. Rescorla epitomized the soldier’s code: leave no man behind.
By Jenny Pachucki, 9/11 Memorial Content Strategist