Nancy Lebovitz · 3h ·
He did what he could to improve security at the towers. He died getting
"After the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland,
Rescorla worried about a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Because his old American friend from Northern Rhodesia, Daniel Hill, was
trained in counterterrorism, in 1990 Rescorla asked him to visit the
World Trade Center to assess its security. When Rescorla asked Hill how
he would attack the building were he a terrorist, Hill asked to see the
basement, and after the two walked down to the basement parking garage
without being stopped by any visible security, Hill pointed to an easily
accessible load-bearing column, and said, "This is a soft touch. I’d
drive a truck full of explosives in here, walk out, and light it
off." That year, Rescorla and Hill wrote a report to the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, insisting on
the need for more security in the parking garage. Their recommendations
(which would have been expensive to implement) were ignored, according
to James B. Stewart's biography of Rescorla, Heart of a Soldier."
"Rescorla gained credibility and authority after the bombing, which
resulted in a change to the culture of Morgan Stanley. Rescorla
wanted the company out of the building because he continued to feel, as
did Hill, that the World Trade Center was still a target for terrorists
and that the next attack could involve a plane crashing into one of the
towers. He recommended to his superiors at Morgan Stanley that the
company leave Manhattan office space, mentioning that labor costs were
lower in New Jersey and that the firm's employees and equipment would be
safer in a proposed four-story building. However, this recommendation
was not followed because the company's lease at the World Trade Center
would not terminate until 2006. At Rescorla's insistence, all employees
(including senior executives) then practiced emergency evacuations every
After Dean Witter merged with Morgan Stanley in 1997, the company
eventually occupied 22 floors in the South Tower and several floors in a
building nearby. Rescorla's office was on the South Tower’s 44th
floor. Feeling that the authorities lost legitimacy after they failed
to respond to his 1990 warnings, he concluded that employees of Morgan
Stanley, which was the largest tenant in the World Trade Center, could
not rely on first responders in an emergency and needed to empower
themselves through surprise fire drills, in which he trained employees
to meet in the hallway between stairwells and go down the stairs two by
two to the 44th floor. Rescorla's strict approach to these drills
put him into conflict with some high-powered executives, who resented
the interruption to their daily activities, but he nonetheless insisted
that these rehearsals were necessary to train the employees in the event
of an emergency. He timed employees with a stopwatch when they moved too
slowly and lectured them on fire emergency basics."
"At 8:46 a.m. on the morning of September 11, 2001, American Airlines
Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center (Tower 1).
Rescorla heard the explosion and saw the tower burning from his office
window in the 44th floor of the South Tower (Tower 2). When a Port
Authority announcement came over the P.A. system urging people to stay
at their desks, Rescorla ignored the announcement, grabbed his bullhorn,
walkie-talkie, and cell phone, and began systematically ordering Morgan
Stanley employees to evacuate, including the 1,000 employees in WTC 5.
He directed people down a stairwell from the 44th floor, continuing to
calm employees after the building lurched violently following the crash
of United Airlines Flight 175 38 floors above into Tower 2 at 9:03 a.m.
Morgan Stanley executive Bill McMahon stated that even a group of 250
people visiting the offices for a stockbroker training class knew what
to do because they had been shown the nearest stairway.
Rescorla had boosted morale among his men in Vietnam by singing Cornish
songs from his youth, and now he did the same in the stairwell, singing
songs such as one based on the Welsh song "Men of Harlech":
"Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming, Can’t you see their spearpoints
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!"
Between songs, Rescorla called his wife, telling her, "Stop crying. I
have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I
want you to know I've never been happier. You made my life." After
successfully evacuating most of Morgan Stanley's 2,700 employees, he
went back into the building. When one of his colleagues told
him he too had to evacuate the World Trade Center, Rescorla replied, "As
soon as I make sure everyone else is out." He was last seen on the
10th floor, heading upward, shortly before the South Tower collapsed at
9:59 A.M. His remains were never found. Rescorla was
declared dead three weeks after the attacks."
Rick Rescorla - Wikipedia
Rick Rescorla - Wikipedia
Cyril Richard Rescorla (May 27, 1939 – September 11, 2001) was a
soldier, police officer, and private security specialist of British
origin. He served as a British Army paratrooper during the Cyprus
Emergency and a United States commissioned officer during the Vietnam
War. He eventually rose to th...
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