In the eighteenth century, a new way of life was born in Europe. The Enlightenment brought with it a new concept of human nature and society that would change the world forever.
The head storm meaning is a type of hurricane that forms in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. They are named for their appearance on weather maps.
Rick Rescorla braved the maelstrom on the brutal battleground of Vietnam’s Ia Drang Valley and in the burning tower of the World Trade Center to save others.
Rick Rescorla was well-versed in his past. The native of England understood how people might be moved by tales from the past, whether recent or distant. His stories of individuals overcoming great odds, whether it was the English triumph at Agincourt in 1415 or the British victory at Rorke’s Drift in the Zulu War of 1879, might inspire people to keep fighting. To stay alive. To succeed. To boost morale and soothe tensions, he composed and performed songs. His singing was recorded on a reel-to-reel recording at a run-down officers club at the US post at An Khe in 1966. Outgoing harassing and interdiction fire may be heard on the tape.
Rick displayed his bravery in Ia Drang, where the US Army fought its first major combat with North Vietnamese soldiers, and it has been precisely 15 years since he faced the flames in New York during the worst terrorist assault in history.
Rick perished on September 11, 2001, doing what he did best: rallying the troops—the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter workers at the World Trade Center. Rick, the chief of security for the building’s biggest financial institution, had already expedited the evacuation of more than 2,000 workers when Tower Two fell around him at 9:59 a.m., 73 minutes after the first aircraft crashed into the Twin Towers. Only three people had not securely left, and he was returning to get them.
Thousands of people in New York perished as a result of Rick’s actions, just as troops in Ia Drang perished as a result of his actions. Rick was in Vietnam when combat operations began in 1965, and he was in New York when another conflict began in 2001. Rick’s memory will be maintained when the children of those who were rescued by him pass on the tale to their own children.
My first encounter with Cyril “Rick” Rescorla was in 1996 during a reunion of Ia Drang veterans. Being invited to this reunion as a young captain commanding a company in the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, was a tremendous honor. Rick was one of our battalion’s most well-known veterans. When retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, who led the 1st Battalion of the 7th at Ia Drang as a lieutenant colonel, says a guy is “the greatest fighting platoon commander I ever saw,” it stays. Another step toward immortality is induction into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame.
Because of the high fatality rate, the combat in Landing Zones X-Ray and Albany in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965 made front-page news almost quickly. The engagements had a significant impact on how American troops would fight for the remainder of the war, both officially and informally. It legitimized the idea of “air assault” (transporting soldiers to the battlefield in helicopters), which went on to become the overarching American tactical doctrine for infantry use in Vietnam.
General Moore and my buddy writer Joe Galloway, who was on the field from day one, memorialized the twin fights at Ia Drang in their 1992 book We Were Soldiers Once…and Young, which became a New York Times bestseller. Rick is photographed on the book’s cover by Associated Press writer Peter Arnett, who also covered the fight.
Rescorla, who was born in Hayle, Cornwall, England, fought in the British Army, then joined the Rhodesian paramilitary police before joining the United States Army to combat communists in Southeast Asia. He was sent to the 7th Cavalry Regiment after Officer Candidate School and commanded the soldiers of 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion.
Moore’s 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, air-assaulted into the isolated Ia Drang Valley, only 10 miles from the Cambodian border, on Nov. 14, 1965. A hornet’s nest was sparked by the troop decrease. Lieutenant Rescorla’s Bravo Company was sent to the middle of the area to assist Moore’s unit a few hours later. Moore’s troops were encircled by almost 2,000 North Vietnamese Army personnel.
As soon as Rescorla’s soldiers arrived at LZ X-Ray, the lieutenant ordered his men to dig deep foxholes and build up a new defensive perimeter 50 yards behind the previous one. In front of them, they set up explosives and booby traps. They positioned their machine guns with care and stacked ammo.
They then waited until the next day. To keep the guys calm, Rescorla performed songs. Grenades and booby traps started exploding in front of Bravo around 0400, but the company was ready. The NVA launched four assaults, assaulting in human waves each time. An assault by as many as 300 NVA was halted cold in the initial surge.
The North Vietnamese began a stronger assault at 0630. Rescorla and his men proceeded to fire bullets into the corpses in the clusters near their holes. At 0655, they started shooting for a “crazy minute.” The predawn assault, which began around 212 a.m., ultimately failed.
Rescorla conducted a patrol across the silent battlefield in the daytime, police the area. After his troops exited the perimeter, they were hit by intense machine-gun fire, prompting Rescorla to order, “Fix bayonets!” Arnett chance to be nearby when the picture that would become the book cover was taken. Rescorla destroyed a nest of NVA by throwing a grenade at an opposing gunner.
The remainder of the 2nd Battalion, who had arrived on foot, started a tactical march to Albany, a fresh landing zone, for a helicopter pickup on November 17. On the march, the battalion was attacked by the NVA again, and Rick’s company was called in to help. Rick, Bravo Company’s only surviving officer platoon commander, led the first reinforcement inside Albany’s perimeter.
The pilot was wounded and began to rise up as the chopper carrying Rick dropped into Albany under heavy fire. Rick and his guys leaped the last 10 feet into the besieged zone, bullets whizzing around them.
According to Lieutenant Larry Gwin, whose book Baptism depicts the same events, Rick, who commanded 1st Platoon, shouted, “Come on, let’s let them have it!”
“I observed Rick Rescorla swaggering towards our lines with a grin on his face, an M-79 over his shoulder, and an M-16 in one hand, exclaiming, ‘Good, good, good!’ Gwin wrote, “I hope they attack us with all they’ve got tonight—we’ll wipe them out.” “His charisma drew me in. As each load arrived, the soldiers cheered, and we made quite a noise. Because of our screams and shouting, the enemy must have assumed a whole battalion was on its way to assist us.” It was just Rescorla and a handful of his guys, however.
Throughout the night, dozens of injured Americans waited for medevacs at Albany. In Albany, brave aviators risked everything for the injured. Inside the perimeter, Rick reprimanded the guys, admonishing them not to fire again. “A tremendous shock greeted the Americans who had survived the night as morning came over the Albany battlefield on Friday, November 18,” wrote Moore and Galloway in We Were Soldiers Once…and Young. “Until now, no one knew the full magnitude of the casualties sustained by the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry…. “It was a lengthy, horrific traffic accident in the jungle,” Rescorla said.
Moore went beyond the perimeter in the film We Were Soldiers, based on the novel, he discovered the corpse of one of his lieutenants and brought it back. That was correct. Moore would summon each and every guy. However, Moore’s claim about discovering an NVA bugle was false. During a sweep at LZ Albany, Rick discovered the bugle on a dead enemy soldier in front of his lines.
“We got back to [Camp] Holloway and were buoyed up for a time by the idea that we had survived,” Rick recalled. “All dark recollections were pushed under the surface.” The bugle may still be exhibited at Fort Benning’s military museum.
Following those two tumultuous battles, in which Rescorla’s men defeated forces five or six times their own size, company commander Captain Myron Diduryk approached the lieutenant and asked (not told, but asked) if he would mind if the entire company adopted Rick’s 1st Platoon’s nickname, “Hard Corps.” As a result, Rick’s platoon radio call sign of One-Six became “Hard Corps One-Six” on the company and battalion networks.
There is no clear or straightforward way to explain Rick Rescorla’s life. Most of the soldiers who knew the 26-year-old second lieutenant in Vietnam only knew him for a year and then didn’t see him again for decades. Poet, romantic, dramatist, a guy genuinely hooked to song, academic, intellectual, raconteur, Cornishman, devoted parent, a man renowned for his strong devotion to those he thought merited it, whether superiors, peers, or subordinates, those who knew him longer give a variety of descriptors.
Regardless of what they recalled about Rick, everyone who knew him could agree on one thing: Rick Rescorla was always the baddest son of a bitch in the valley.
Rescorla spent a year teaching at Fort Benning in Georgia after his Vietnam service and then left the Army—sort of. He joined the Army Reserve and rose through the ranks to colonel before retiring in 1990. Rick earned a master’s degree and a law degree along the road. He joined Dean Witter in 1985 as a corporate security analyst.
I had largely attempted to keep my lips shut during the Ia Drang reunion in 1996, allowing the war veterans to speak to one other. Rick, on the other hand, was not having it. Drawing me out, he discovered my own interests: history, academics, writing, and even acting, all of which are out of the ordinary for an airborne infantry Ranger. I sat and drank a fine scotch while he told me his tales, which I was writing down in an untutored oral-history sort of manner as someone who wanted to be a historian one day. I later requested that he sign my copy of We Were Soldiers Once…and Young.
Rick grabbed my book, borrowed my pen, and went over to the other side of the room, where he sat, facing away, apparently staring into the distance…despite the fact that the distance was just a few feet away.
Rick’s natural ability to lead, both in combat and in life, was the key to his success. And, like the greatest commanders, it wasn’t because of any military position he had in the British Army, Rhodesian paramilitary police, or the United States Army. He was a leader because he knew how to deal with guys. He instinctively understood what others who get to much higher levels never accomplish.
What he understood was simple: when things go wrong, when lives are on the line, and danger is imminent, people want to think that the person they are following is greater than they are. Smarter. Stronger. Not as terrified as they are right now. Rick motivated other guys to greatness by being able to ignore his own fear when it counted. His companions followed him into the whirlpool.
Rescorla planned for another attack after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. (Alamy Stock Photo/Laperruque)
Rick was instructed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controlled the towers, to “shelter in place” when terrorist hijackers crashed an aircraft into Tower One of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Rick responded, “Bugger that!” ” (a very, very…very nasty word when uttered by a Brit) and ordered his whole business to evacuate. Other areas were in turmoil, but not where Rick was in charge.
Rick had been preparing workers for an assault like this since 1993, when a truck bomb detonated in the basement of the building. Rick had seen the building’s appeal as a terrorist target long before then. According to a New Yorker article from 2002, he met with a security officer at the port authority in 1990 to explain the building’s vulnerability, but the authority did nothing.
Rick successfully evacuated all of his company’s workers from the building during the 1993 assault. He immediately started lobbying Dean Witter, which merged with Morgan Stanley in 1997, to tighten up security. He suggested and ensured that fail-safe lights and smoke extractors were placed in the emergency stairwells. Employees were required to go through regular evacuation exercises in a systematic and orderly manner. Rick made it all the way to the top of the corporate ladder.
Rick’s office was on the 44th floor in 2001. Rick felt responsible for each of his company’s more than 2,000 workers, who were spread over 22 levels. Employees of Dean Witter Morgan Stanley left the stairwells two by two, exactly as he had instructed.
Here’s a figure: 2,684. Rick was able to effectively evacuate that many workers. This does not include the thousands of others that made it down those stairwells thanks to Rick’s professional, controlled, and military-style evacuation. Those extra figures will never be known.
Rick, on the other hand, was aware that three workers were missing and returned to find them. Rick was last spotted ascending the 10th level. He would not abandon anybody.
Rick was the last person I saw while I was teaching military history at West Point in 2001. General Moore had been asked to speak to the cadets in the military history classes, and the department had come to me for suggestions on what to present him as a souvenir. Moore was the honorary colonel of my regiment, and he was writing the preface to my next book. What do you get for the guy who has it all?
Rick resided in New Jersey and worked in Manhattan, approximately 50 miles from West Point, as far as I knew. Rick was also an uncommon participant at the regiment’s annual reunions, which are conducted every year.
He came to visit pals, but he was actually pretty hesitant to slip into the “old soldier” mentality and repeat tales long rehashed. Moore had only seen him a couple of times since Vietnam. I knew this, and I knew Rick had been fighting cancer. I called Rick and his new wife, Susan, and invited them to West Point for Moore’s speech to the cadets.
When the big day came, we arranged a modest dinner on post at the Hotel Thayer for around 12 individuals before the West Point ceremony. I watched as Moore’s expression flickered between bewilderment, recognition, and pleasure when Rick and Susan entered the room, much to Moore’s astonishment. Moore afterwards shared his knowledge on battle with the gathered cadets during the event. These cadets, who would go on to become lieutenants, captains, and majors, drank it all up. The first row was occupied by Rick and Susan. I didn’t understand it until Rick told me later that Susan didn’t know much about his military history at the time. They’d just met a few years before. They were both divorced, but they discovered something in each other that worked, and they had only been married for a year. Rick had resigned from the Army Reserves in 1990, so there was no need for him to discuss that period of his life. As a result, he never did.
He made no mention of the best-selling book, the Peter Arnett photograph, or the film. Susan’s Rick worked as the head of security at a large financial firm. He possessed a soul with a profound sense of humour. Soldier? No, it was simply something he did on the spur of the moment.
Susan was perplexed as to why this West Point event was so significant. In addition to the thousand cadets, the professors had shown out in force, and the throng had outgrown the auditorium’s seating capacity. Moore brought up the subject of war. Not pleasant platitudes, but the gritty details that we don’t normally discuss. How to drag a group of ordinary, good young American guys into hell and then emerge alive. Moore was a man who never minced his words.
“And now I want to present you to the greatest combat commander I ever saw, Hard Corps One-Rick Six’s Rescorla, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry,” Moore stated at the conclusion of his speech, which shocked Susan.
As the cadets, commanders, and everyone else who could fit into Eisenhower Hall that night rose to their feet in deafening acclaim, the foundations trembled. Rick took a step forward.
He just offered a brief wave before returning to his seat.
Susan was really taken aback. Rick was her name. Her bumbling idiot. Her passionate and poet. It never ceases to amaze me.
I recall seeing Rick for the first time at the Ia Drang reunion in 1996, when he signed my copy of We Were Soldiers Once…and Young. After a few moments of thought, he handed me the book; the scotch he’d poured was nearly gone. Later, I glanced at the inscription quietly:
Captain Bob Bateman is the recipient of this letter.
Wild Geese and Old Dogs
are battling it out
Make your way to the Storm
As you’ve already encountered it
For where there is the Seventh, there is the Seventh.
There will inevitably be conflict.
And if there isn’t any fighting,
It’s no longer the seventh.
Rick Rescorla, Hard Corps One-Six
As usual, a poet. And, as usual, there’s a lot more. Rick’s memories prompted me to write a tribute to him after he passed away:
So, once you’ve finished reading this,
Pick up your canteen cup.
And put mead or scotch in it.
Then immediately dump it out.
on the ground, on the ground, on the ground, on the ground, on the ground, on
For the Seventh Century’s heart
Rescorla is no longer available.
The article was first published in the October 2016 edition of Vietnam Magazine.
Head for the Storm is a documentary about the life of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. It was directed by David Lipsky and produced by Robert Kenner. Reference: head jacket.
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A storm head is a type of weather phenomenon that occurs when there is a strong, sustained wind coming from the same direction as the storms movement.
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When someone says they are the storm, it means that they have a lot of power and control over others.
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