One thing that is easily forgotten about the 9/11 attacks is that they could have been so much worse -- the people who perished in the Twin Towers made up a fraction of the total who worked there. Well, part of the reason so many made it out is because one guy knew it was coming. He was a regular old security guard for financial firm Morgan Stanley, and his name was Rick Rescorla.
Rick Rescorla MemorialÂ
A regular old security guard who'd served in military and law enforcement on four continents.
When we say "he knew it was coming," we're not getting into conspiracy territory here. Remember, September 11 wasn't the first attack from extremists on the World Trade Center -- in 1993, a bunch of those yahoos tried to bring the towers down with a truck bomb in the towers' garage. They were obviously unsuccessful, but they left an impression on Rescorla, who by the way had actually approached the city of New York about the WTC's security weaknesses before the 1993 bombing but was told in no uncertain terms to mind his own business.
So, when Rescorla was promoted to director of security for Morgan Stanley (i.e., most of the South Tower) in the mid-'90s, he decided to prepare for what he felt was another likely attack. Rescorla, who was a former Army colonel and Vietnam veteran, used his military background to construct his own evacuation plan, which he insisted on holding a drill for twice a year. By the way, this was in 1997 -- four full years before 9/11.
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The rest of us were just preparing for the next century by hoarding items we could later list as "'90s stuff."
So when the first plane hit the North Tower at 8:46 a.m., Rescorla jumped into action. Despite inexplicable orders to NOT use his evacuation plan, Rescorla gave The Man a big giant "fuck off" and got people the hell out of there. By the time the second plane hit the South Tower at 9:03 a.m., only 17 minutes after the first attack, Rescorla had gotten 2,700 people out of the building calmly and safely. Only 13 people died under Rescorla's watch.
Sadly, one of those people was Rescorla himself -- he had gone back to look for stragglers. In a moment straight out of Hollywood, reports say that he was able to call his wife and tell her goodbye. So how do you remember a guy like that? Well, the History Channel produced a documentary about him called The Man Who Predicted 9/11, and the San Francisco Opera produced a piece called "Heart of a Soldier." Oh, and a statue of him as a soldier was unveiled. So that's pretty cool.
Rick Rescorla Memorial
Even if it does kind of imply that he forced the evacuation at the point of a bayonet.
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