A Man for All Seasons

LZAlbany

Next Tuesday is 911 again, and while it’s not going to be commemorated like it was last year, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remember it this (and every) year. This is the story of one man who made a huge difference that dark day. He’s sometimes called “The Man who foresaw 911″.

I like to think of him as still another gift from our British cousins and an example of a man who did his duty, supremely well.

 

There were plenty of heroes on 9/11. Fire and police and port authority all going in. Passengers counterattacking on Flight 93 and various civilians and military in New York and the Pentagon. Even what the military calls NCA, the National Command Authority.

If

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

….
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run -

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

~Kipling

But the one that is my especial hero of the day; is my hero because of how he lived his life.

A British NCO from Cornwall who served in the Parachute Regiment, immigrated to the US, served as Platoon Leader, B Co 2/7 Cavalry in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the battle of Ia Drang, where he gave the British commands of ‘Fix Bayonets, On Line, Ready forward’. His picture is on the cover of ‘We Were Soldiers’. It is a praiseworthy story prompting us to Remember ,

but it doesn’t end there.

On 9/11 he was vice-president in charge of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. We all know what happened that day, but do we remember that only six Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated. One them was this man, now a retired Colonel, who stayed to make sure he got his people out. In all those situations, he was singing an old song commemorating the resistance of the Cornish against the British, and Roark’s Drift in the Boer War, and other engagements. That song is:

Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can’t you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield!

That man was Colonel Rick Rescorla and he is a legend in the 7th Cavalry. He is not a man any of us should ever forget. A real life Sagaman, who lived quietly amongst us. From Shakespeare:

“His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world ‘This was a man!’”

The tragedy of 911 was this; multiplied by three thousand.

After having reached safety, Rescorla returned to the building to rescue others still inside. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains have not been recovered. He left a wife and two children.

He is my hero not least because he fulfilled to the last breath the leadership credo that the Air Force taught me, and so many others:

First: The Mission

Always: the People

Last: Yourself

And thus, on this September 7th the story of how the people of a great American financial institution were rescued by the 7th U.S. Cavalry (Custer’s Own).




		
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18 Responses to A Man for All Seasons

  1. JessicaHof says:

    Thank you for commemorating this too often forgotten hero. :)

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    • He’s easy to forget, I suppose but, the first time I heard the story I was immensely moved. Last year “Maggie’s Notebook” also wrote about him. :-)

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      • JessicaHof says:

        Yes, I remember reading about him last year,but not before – since, until today :)

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        • I think I first heard of him inn regard to “We were Soldiers Once” and later found out the rest. There’s more, much more to the story. The ruthless self discipline is part of it :-)

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        • JessicaHof says:

          Yes, it is the foundation for everything else :)

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        • Yes, ad no. I’d say6 the basis was his service as an NCO with the Para’s in Rhodesia.

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        • JessicaHof says:

          Yes, Ican see that :)

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        • I’m glad, and I’m further glad that is the material your forces has to work with. :-)

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        • JessicaHof says:

          Yes, some if those from the Commonwealth have the best attributes of all.

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        • Only ones that I know much about are Canucks and Aussies, and I’d have to agree from our side of the pond as well.

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        • JessicaHof says:

          I agree :)

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        • Good :-)

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  2. Yes, this was a man. Your last words destroyed much of the pride for me which the 7th Cav. have…Custer’s Own…I hope the bloody hell not. I have no use for the man., through his arrogance and stupidity he got all his men killed and in doing so violated the first two articles of Air Force leadership credo.

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    • I agree but they are not my words, they are the unofficial slogan of the 7th Cav. He was foolhardy but it had served him extraordinarily well in the Civil War.

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  3. America’s western movement was quite different from that of Canada. Two glaring examples: when Sitting Bull arrived in Canada there were certain disputes as to how they were going to be treated and what benefits they were entitled to. This argument was in council with all the other Sioux Chiefs and Col. Walsh of the NWMP. Walsh got so mad at sitting bull, no he didn’t kill him and the women and children, he just kicked him in the ass in front of his peers. Here that would be cause for an all out war. The second was when Sitting Bull and a whole bunch of his braves were finally returned to the US, at the border, they were escorted by only TWO members of the NWMP only to be met by a regiment of the Custer’s Own. The main difference was the Canadians respected the Native Tribes the US just thought them as savages.

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    • There is truth in that, David.

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  4. He was great in the Civil war but he didn’t know Indian fighting

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    • True enough

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