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   Inside Out - South West: Monday 10th February, 2003


Rick Rescorla in the US Army
BRAVERY | Rick Rescorla rescued thousands in the World Trade Centre attack

9/11 - two years ago, it would be difficult to imagine how these two numbers could embody so much tragedy, grief and fear. But for one man, the tragedy of September 11, was the terrorist attack he had feared for years.

Cornishman Rick Rescorla’s heroism is legendary. What is less well known, in this country at least, were his prophetic views on terrorism.

Inside Out pays tribute to his bravery, his spirit and his astonishing foresight.

Rick Rescorla
After a successful army career, Rick Rescorla became director of security for Morgan Stanley

Born in the Cornish town of Hayle, Rick’s first encounter with America came in the form of GIs preparing for D-Day in the town. They inspired Rick’s adventurous spirit and his never failing love for America.

War hero

Rick and his friend and confidante Dan Hill both enlisted in the United States Army.

A highly decorated war hero, Rick served the USA as platoon leader in Vietnam.

For all his success in the US, Cornwall was never far from Rick’s heart and he returned regularly.

Rick retired from his army career in 1968. Via a career as a university law professor, Rick became director of security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (previously Dean Witter) in their offices in the World Trade Centre.


The World Trade Centre
Rick always feared a terrorist attack on the Twin Towers

It was here that Rick Rescorla was to predict with startling accuracy the horrors he himself would later face in that building.

Speaking in an interview in 1998, Rick predicted that, "Terrorist forces can tie up conventional forces and bring them to their knees.

Just one man willing to give his life for what he believes in, chooses the time and place and there is no way that any soldiers can be 100% alert."

But alert he was and in 1990 he asked old friend and ex-special forces soldier Dan Hill to evaluate the risks to the World Trade Centre. The garage was pin pointed as a weak point, but no official response to their report was forthcoming.

September 11 2001

08:40 Eastern Daylight Time,Time American Airlines Flight 11 is reported to have been hijacked.

08:43 United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles is also reported hijacked.

08:46 American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Centre.

09:03 The world watches as a second passenger jet, United Airlines Flight 175, crashes into the south tower of the Trade Centre causing a devastating explosion.

09:40 American Airlines Flight 77, carrying 64 people from Washington to Los Angeles, crashes into the Pentagon in Washington.

09:58 An emergency despatcher in Pennsylvania receives a call from a passenger on United Flight 93 who says they are being hijacked.

10:03 United Airlines Flight 93 crashes 80 miles south east of Pittsburgh.

10:05 The south tower of the World Trade Centre collapses. Many firefighters, emergency services and workers are still in the tower.

10:29 The north tower of the World Trade Centre collapses.

In 1993, a van packed with explosives was detonated 30 feet from where they had predicted.

1993 should have been a wake-up all for all. Rick pressed Dean Witter to move out of the Twin Towers believing that the next attack would come by air.

Eight years later, Rick Rescorla would personally escort all 20 floors of Morgan Stanley employees out of the building and to safety.

The day that changed the world

8.46am, September 11 2001, American Airlines, flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre.

Amid the panic and desperation that ensued, Rick Rescorla could be found guiding people out of the south tower, despite speaker announcements in the building to the contrary advising people to remain inside.

9.03am and the second passenger plane crashed into the south tower. Despite fears that the building would fall, Rick returned to the building again, singing Cornish songs in an effort to keep spirits up.

10.05am, the south tower collapsed and Rick Rescorla lost his life.

His memory lives on

In all, Rick Rescorla lead 2,700 men and women to safety.

Despite his valiant deeds, Rick hasn’t yet received official recognition, but in his Cornish birthplace, the campaign continues for an honour.

Official recognition aside, Rick Rescorla’s bravery and selflessness has touched thousands - not only those he helped to save, but their loved ones too, ensuring his memory will never die.

See also ...

Hero of the Twin Towers
Farewell to a New York hero

On the rest of the web
Rick Rescorla

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

conrad wells
I read ricks story whilst in cornwall and was impressed by his humanity and courage in war and peace in these times of uncertainty it would be aneverlasting tribute to his memory for him to be honoured.

Eric Henninger
I had never heard of Rick Rescorla until quite recently. As an American, and as a descendant of people who were mostly from the British Isles, I can't help but feel that Mr. Rescorla embodied the very best attributes of the country of his birth and the country in which he lived.

Henry Brown
Now living at Penzance, I was born at Angarrack, Hayle.

This evening I watched 'Inside Our on BBC 1 and the comments made by Rick Rescorla. My mind fashed back to a photograph which was copied from the Internet in 1997. It showed the area around the Twin Towers with smoke coming from one 3/4 of the way up. In the forefront were mountains just like those in Afghanistan.

Margaret G Powling
Rick Rescorla's bravery is without question. That he warned of such disasters and was largely ignored makes me angry and sad.

Thank you for showing his interview of five years ago. That he hasn't received official recognition for his supreme act of bravery - his personal sacrifice - is lamentable.

T Morris
Rick should be much more widely lauded as a totally selfless hero.

As a tribute to the man and the places he loved I suggest: The completion and linking of a series of trails based loosely around the existing Mineral Tramways, through the Great Flat Lode, along the Red River and ending in Hayle, his home town.

This would give the public access to a series of unparallelled views of the heritage and beauty of Mid - West Cornwall, ideal for contemplation and reflection; it would pay tribute to Mr Rescorla's contribution to mankind by reminding all those that used it of the journey Rick made through his life; it provide the catalyst to finally stitch together the loose network of trails begun some years ago, but which now seems to be stagnating, and through careful and sensitive marketing it could provide a boost to our tottering economy.

The name for this network: something like "The Rescorla Way"

Pat Nicholas
I never had the honour of knowing this man , but as a fellow Cornishman(although from St Just)it makes me more proud to be Cornish than I ever was before.

Having worked last year in Venezuela I have met one of the Soldiers who foufgt in the I Drang valley alonside Rescorla and he had tremendous respect for him .

I feel that it would be a great injjustice for our PM not to recognise Rescorla as he was not just a great Cornishman but a true Great Briton.

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