World Trade Center hero and Vietnam Vet Rick Rescorla awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal

Jack Murphy
November 08, 2019 - 11:01 am
Remembering 9/11

DVIDs, Photo by Edward Lopez

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On Thursday President Trump awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal to Rick Rescorla post-humously. His wife Susan accepted the award on behalf of her late husband.

Rescorla is best known for his heroic actions at the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks, but his story of service begins long before that. Born in the United Kingdom in 1938, Rescorla came into contact with American soldiers who were in England preparing for the D-Day invasion. They inspired him to join the military himself. He enlisted in the British military in 1957, joined the British Parachute Regiment (known simply as paras) and deployed to Cyrus during a flare-up on the island between the Greeks and the Turks, a simmering conflict that continues to this day.

He went on to serve as a police officer in Northern Rhodesia (which later became Zambia) from 1960 to 1963 and then immigrated to the United States and enlisted in the U.S. Army. After attending Officer Candidate School (OCS), Rescorla was assigned as a platoon leader in 7th Cav where he saw action in the battle of la Drang. The battle was one of the hardest fought in the entire Vietnam War, and was memorialized in the book "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young" written by Joseph Galloway.

After his military service, Rescorla attained his college education and eventually went on to work in corporate security in the 1980's. While working at the World Trade Center he warned of security lapses that left the site open to attack. Fearing a terrorist attack even more dire than the 1993 truck bombing, he had building employees rehearse evacuation drills. On 9/11 he immediately ordered an evacuation after he saw the explosion that resulted from American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into WTC building #1 from his office window in WTC building #2. Rescorla helped evacuate nearly all of the Morgan Stanley employees he was responsible for, then went back into the building to continue to help. He was last seen on the 10th floor of the building, which collapsed shortly after, just before 10 a.m.

"Rick realized he would not be happy if he was not protecting others," President Trump said at yesterday's ceremony. The Presidential Citizens Medal is the second-highest civilian award given by the President of the United States.

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Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.