2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
My hat off to a man who, between fighting wars for his country, dedicated his life to the idea that free men with rifles provided the greatest guarantee of peace and freedom in our lifetime.
"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Old Navy messenger style bag. Sometimes simple is good.
3 Day Assault Pack type bag, plenty of room for your stuff.
Helmet bag, helmet head.
CountyComm EOD utility bag. Another CountyComm bag, this is based on the current claymore mine bag supposedly. I am using this bag (with a few added pockets) as my primary range and SHTF bag. It has two sides of PALS webbing to attach all of your "tacticool" pouches as well as an internal mesh divider and two internal magazine pouches. The strap is solidly made but in my opinion a bit low on the sides to offer real stability. Still it has worked admirably for me and is tough enough for any role assigned to it. For less than $25, its hard to beat its value.
Plenty of PALS webbing on both side to attach stuff.
You can see the 2 internal mag pouches as well as the two pouches (4 total slots) on the outside. This is a cavernous bag even if it does not appear so. Great for carrying ammo and mags to the range!
The Not-so-tactical bag approach: Having a bag scream "hey, I got survival supplies and/or weapons!" on you may not always be the smartest approach. There may come a time in an crisis situation where discretion certainly may be the better point of valor. Remember after Hurricane Katrina when local law enforcement went around and illegally seized firearms from law abiding citizens? They certainly meant well but left many a stranded family unable to defend themselves in the aftermath of that tragedy. Below are some bags that would not necessarily be out of place in any setting but yet could carry items as "go bags"
And lastly, the "I'm not a go bag" bag": No joke, its a zip lock. Remember the pictures of people walking out of New York after 9/11 due to transit systems being shut down? How many people in that crowd would of liked to of had a bag like this sitting in their desk drawers at work with maybe some basic first aid supplies, a candy or granola bar, bottle of water, a dust/hospital mask, small flashlight or other similar items. I think I said it above, but no single "go bag" is right for all situations. My thought is this, I need a small bag to help get from my office to my truck, another if I get to my truck and I can't use it, and another once I get home and need to leave there. Use your imagination. It may be a simple plastic bag but that does not limit its usefulness. Imagine you are walking out of downtown after a chemical spill or weapon has gone off. You come across an office cooler that obviously cannot be contaminated from a central source. You can use the bag to carry some of the water with you. Same use I have my blue 1 liter bottle with me in my truck. Hey, God gave you a brain for a reason, don't be limited by the obvious choices think "outside the box". That in itself is a survival strategy to depend on.
OK, so there you have it. My little secret is out. I am a bag addict. I would love to hear from some of you and see if you have a "go bag" and if so what it contains. Drop me a comment on this post if you want and we'll see how many others we can get together for a 12 step group.
Ammo Sales Spike Continues Months After Obama Elected
Thursday, September 24, 2009
NEW ORLEANS — Bullet-makers are working around the clock, seven days a week, and still can't keep up with the nation's demand for ammunition.
Shooting ranges, gun dealers and bullet manufacturers say they have never seen such shortages. Bullets, especially for handguns, have been scarce for months because gun enthusiasts are stocking up on ammo, in part because they fear President Barack
Obamaand the Democratic-controlled Congress will pass antigun legislation — even though nothing specific has been proposed and the president last month signed a law allowing people to carry loaded guns in national parks.
Gun sales spiked when it became clear Obama would be elected a year ago and purchases continued to rise in his first few months of office. The
FBI'sNational Instant Criminal Background Check System reported that 6.1 million background checks for gun sales were issued from January to May, an increase of 25.6 percent from the same period the year before.
"That is going to cause an upswing in ammunition sales," said Larry Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade
associationrepresenting about 5,000 members. "Without bullets a gun is just a paper weight."
The shortage for sportsmen is different than the scarcity of ammo for some police forces earlier this year, a dearth fueled by an increase in ammo use by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We are working overtime and still can't keep up with the demand," said Al Russo, spokesman for North Carolina-based Remington Arms Company, which makes bullets for rifles, handguns and shotguns. "We've had to add a fourth shift and go 24-7. It's a phenomenon that I have not seen before in my 30 years in the business."
Americans usually buy about 7 billion rounds of ammunition a year, according to the National Rifle
Association. In the past year, that figure has jumped to about 9 billion rounds, said NRA spokeswoman Vickie Cieplak.
Jason Gregory, who manages Gretna Gun Works just outside of New Orleans, has been building his personal supply of ammunition for months. His goal is to have at least 1,000 rounds for each of his 25 weapons.
"I call it the Obama effect," said Gregory, 37, of Terrytown, La. "It always happens when the Democrats get in office. It happened with Clinton and Obama is even stronger for gun control. Ammunition will be the first step, so I'm stocking up while I can."
So far, the new administration nor Congress has not been markedly antigun. Obama has said he respects Second Amendment rights, but favors "common sense" on gun laws. Still, worries about what could happen persist.
Demand has been so heavy at some Walmarts, a limit was imposed on the amount of ammo customers can buy. The cutoff varies according to caliber and store location, but sometimes as little as one box — or 50 bullets — is allowed.
At Barnwood Arms in Ripon, Calif., sales manager Dallas Jett said some of the shortages have leveled off, but 45-caliber rounds are still hard to find.
"We've been in business for 32 years and I've been here for 10 and we've never seen anything like it," Jett said. "Coming out of Christmas everything started to dry up and it was that way all through the spring and summer.
Nationwide, distributors are scrambling to fill orders from retailers.
"We used to be able to order 50 or 60 cases and get them in three or four days easy, it was never an issue," said Vic Grechniw of Florida Ammo Traders, a distributor in Tampa, Fla. "Now you are really lucky if you can get one case a month. It just isn't there because the demand is way up."
A case contains 500 or 1,000 bullets.
At Jefferson Gun Outlet and Range in Metairie just west of New Orleans, owner Mike Mayer is worried individuals are going to start buying by the case.
"If someone wants to shoot on the weekend you have to worry about having the ammunition for them. And I know some people aren't buying to use it at the range, they're taking it home and hoarding it."
With demand, prices have also risen.
"Used to be gold, but now lead is the most expensive metal," said Donald Richards, 37, who was stocking up at the Jefferson store. "And worth every penny."
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Take a look at Kevin here shooting my AK. See how easy it is to keep your finger off the trigger. So simple but yet so hard for so many to do..Remember folks, YOU are the best safety designed into your weapon.
I've been sick the past few days, more posts to follow soon.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
This letter has been on the net a few months now from what I gather.
OK, this is going to be a long read, but the link that I got for it is down and this way you won't have to search for it.
The fear on the street is palpable. Ever since the election of Barack Obama as President of these United States in November 2008, coupled with the election of a democrat party majority in both the U.S. House and Senate, concern for the United States and personal safety has ignited like a fire in dry grass. Sales of guns - black guns, rifles, shotguns and handguns (particularly 9mm) everywhere, have gone through the roof. AR15s have literally flown off of dealer shelves, and only now in the spring of 2009, have I seen the display samples of ARs begin to reappear on the wall of my favorite shooting emporium after the initial post election rush. Manufacturers of ARs are still working to catch up and some of the major suppliers are as much as 150,000 guns behind.
Not only that, ammo is in the shortest supply I have ever seen in the 43 years of my shooting life. Have you recently tried to get 5.56mm, 9mm or even 380 ammo? Supplies of 5.56mm and 9mm ammo are in short supply due to the black gun buying craze; .380ACP because of the rise in people getting concealed carry permits and the resurgence of interest in convenient 380 handguns like the fine Ruger LCP. In fact, in doing a review of the Ruger LCP, my gun store only had a small supply of ONE .380 round on hand, the Winchesters 95-grain SXT, which they had just gotten in. Unfortunately, I had to do a 30-round review of that pistol. There was none other to be found.
The 5.56mm was the first caliber to noticeably be in short supply. This was first due to the war effort, the headlong adoption of 5.56mm rifles by law enforcement agencies ever since the great LAPD bank robbery and shootout, the general shooting public interest in and acceptance of the AR15 weapons system along with a realization that yes, the AR does have sporting purpose, and of course now, this new fear that is on the street. Sales of ARs also went up following 9/11.
What is odd about this new fear is that it is not coming from the average citizen gun owner out there, but it is coming from what to me is an almost shocking source: street cops. Street cops and SWAT cops that I know from various agencies - rural, suburban and metro - in my area are scared. Cops that before November 2008 never gave much thought (that I knew of anyway) to politics or more importantly to gun rights. For the most part, these are the guys that didn't generally have any interest in shooting or gun ownership beyond keeping track of where their duty gun is, and a few of them didn't even do that so well.
The guys I am talking about now are some of the same guys who used to not even carry off duty on a regular basis- but not anymore. They don't scare easily, defenders of the Constitution of this State and the United States (as our oath of office reads), have been buying ARs, survival gear, and all the ammo they can lay their hands on. All of them (or I should say "us") have been discussing and have been acquiring guns to provide a layered perimeter defense. We want something in .308 (or in my case a superb M1 Garand in .30-06) for covering the outer perimeters, 5.56mm weapons for mid-range use (for some with more limited funds, the AK-47 and 7.62×39 cartridge will suffice), and for the close up stuff shotguns and handguns (love my Benelli M4 Tactical and Beretta 92 9mm).
What are we suddenly so afraid of? Well in our discussions it seems to boil down to four areas.
First, fear of federal government intrusion into our lives. Every time I look at or listen to the news, there is something new and intrusive coming out of the Obama administration and this Congress. New tax schemes, government-run Canadian-style healthcare, a volunteer citizen defense force (whatever that is, what happened to the National Guard?) equipped with funding similar to our military, forced voluntary "service" after retirement, a lack of a southern border with hordes of illegal and criminal aliens pouring over our border, the swine flu scare as well as government forced closing of thousands of privately held Chrysler and GM dealerships, which will be the final nail in the coffin for these companies and the list goes on and on. But these items in the news are just the tip of the iceberg. We can't see the full impact of these actions yet, but we don't know what was added into the thousands of pages of stimulus package bills in the dead of night yet. I predict however that when the plans contained in the stimulus packages go into effect, a lot of us are going to be surprised if not shocked by what has suddenly and sweepingly changed.
What also scares us is the second, well-founded fear that there is an assault weapons ban looming, one that would make the Clinton Ban appear like a look of disdain in comparison. I remember well the 1990s and the Clinton years: the rise of militia groups, the "black helicopter" rumors and paranoia, all of which was motivated by the Brady Law and the Assault Weapon's ban. What if a new ban comes requiring registration or confiscation and turn-in of banned weapons as what happened in Australia?
I watched cops and citizens alike purchase these guns at $900 dollars and more, with custom or tricked out guns easily running into the $2,000 range. Then add on all the accessories, red dots, lights, slings and anything else you can name and you may have up to $3,000 wrapped up in your rig. I saw the looks in their eyes. These purchasers weren't spending this kind of money just to turn in the guns for no compensation when a government tells them to. I foresee much civil disobedience coming down the road.
Americans are citizens, and not subjects like the British, Canadians or Australians. They just don't always obey the law blindly and not one officer or citizen that I spoke to said anything like "I hope I get to keep this gun for awhile before they are banned; They are fun to shoot, so I would hate to give it up." It isn't going to happen, so the cop on the street and the soldier on the base needs to think now what he will do if the orders come down. I think you all get what I am saying here.
Which leads me to the third fear, that there is a revolution coming, yes, a revolution on the scale of the original American Revolution. You can hear this topic discussed on many of the talk radio shows by even the big name hosts. The possibility of an armed revolution against the U.S. government is being discussed, albeit very gingerly and fleetingly and as something to be avoided, which it is. I never heard this mentioned in the 90s.
One of my quietest, low profile officer friends brought it up the other day. He said that at some point in the near future, he felt there is going to be an armed revolt if things keep going the way they are. Something has got to give. I was shocked. Yes, I had heard this from some of my more radical cop friends in the past, but to hear it from a guy like this was unprecedented.
Now, these guys are not saying this will happen to foment revolution, preach sedition or to even participate. They just want to be ready if it happens, to at least defend their families, because number four on the fear list is general societal chaos.
Cops fear for their parents, wives, children or grandchildren more now than ever before. Most cops are encouraging their spouses and loved ones to get concealed carry permits. Not only that, but some of these same cops are buying gun mounts for their personal cars so they can carry an AR in the family ride at the ready all the time. They are also strapping on heavier forms of off-duty hardware. I have other friends that are issued ARs or subguns for tactical team use, who always have their gear with them and are planning on just commandeering these weapons for personal use in defending hearth and home.
This is pretty heady and maybe even dangerous stuff. Know fully that I am not advocating anything here. I am reflecting to you what I see and hear going on around me, and maybe saying things that haven't been said in the open, until now. It is something to think about.
Written By; SCOTT WAGNER IS A 30 YEAR LAW ENFORCEMENT VETERAN AND TRAINER
I took the time to look Scott up and did indeed receive acknowledgment from him that these are indeed his own words as written by him. I must reiterate his own words that Scott does not advocate revolution in this letter. It is simply his report or what he sees happening around him in the law enforcement community and his interpretation on the information.
Folks, to me this is some scary stuff he's talking about here. I have commented on this blog before about the shortage of ammo and firearms in and around Columbus, and while not back up to pre-BHO levels, the supply is slowly starting to trickle back in. At the large gun store I frequent here in Columbus the long lines and waits of a few months ago have been replaced by the more moderate lines that I remember. Maybe part of the reason is that the massive assault on assault weapons from the White House has not materialized as of yet, and when Attorney General Holder did mention it, it was immediately retracted by him and the administration. Doesn't mean we are out of the woods yet. Colin Powell was in the news recently talking about several subjects one of which was his approval of BHO and the advice he gave him to try not and do everything in the first year and promise more than you can deliver. Or maybe the simple fact is that after months of gun buying madness, the market has been saturated with buyers that have run out of money or reasons to purchase any more.
To hear the thought of open armed rebellion against our own government discussed among law enforcement officers troubles me deeply. We pride ourselves as a country on the fact that no matter how hotly contested a political race is, we have always had non-violent transfers of power in this country when it comes to our highest offices. I often wonder what would of happened if they had discovered the telegraph or telephone back before 1776 and there could of been more of an open dialog with the King of England by the colonies. Maybe some compromise could of been reached and we would still be a Commonwealth of Great Britain or something. I am sure though that the 2 to 3 months it took messages to cross the Atlantic in those days could not of helped resolving differences between the English Government and the original 13 colonies. This lack of communication may have well lead to those first fateful volleys at Lexington and Concord that started the American Revolution as we know it. I am grateful to be an American, but can't help but wonder "what if" sometimes.
Now it seems to me that communication may be having the reverse affect.
The Internet is a wonderful invention. It has revolutionized the way we look at the world and those around us. My daughter spends several (supervised) hours a week on the web on kid friendly sites and is more tech savvy than my 70-ish year old parents. Cultures that may never normally of interacted are now crashed into one another daily in a myriad of formats on the Internet. Even within our own country relationships and networks are being built in cyberspace that never would of existed a scant decade ago. Some of these networks, such as Facebook, reunite old friends and family and are generally used for the purpose for which they are designed.
Of course the Internet has a darker side. Everything designed for a useful purpose can always be exploited and misused as well. The Internet is no exception. Some of these networking sites out there promote hate and discord among the masses. Stormfront Nation is one that comes readily to mind. A white supremacy site, they have a very loyal group of members and a large portion of their forums dedicated to firearm related info. I often come across links to their site while researching a particular firearm related piece of info. Unfortunately in our society the web has grown its own legitimacy to the point that many people take for granted what is on its pages must be undeniably true.
During the last assault weapons ban the Internet was in its infancy. Use of it was limited to academia and the more "tech savvy" amongst society. Now its everywhere. When the first ban went into affect I have no doubt in my mind that people were out there that saw that as the first steps in the destruction of democracy and yet we are still here. Matter of fact, some of the backlash of that ban helped cause the sweeping influx of pro gun legislatures that came later and let the ban lapse back in 2004. People took attention to what was happening to their rights and voiced, and voted, their concerns. They didn't necessarily stock up on weapons, form a militia and make plans to start ambushing and attacking government entities. There certainly were (and still are) those types of people and groups out there, but they were isolated and pretty much not mainstream.
Now fast forward 15 years, there is talk of another weapons ban coming. I have no doubt it is on some page of BHO's "master plan" but not at the present - the man is as shrewd and cunning as any man that has ever held that office - other than using the word "stupidly" to describe police activity without having all the facts. The ban will be one of his societal issues he will try and tackle once national health care and the economy have been worked on. I would be that he is so sure of himself that he has agenda items reaching all of the way out until the 7th or 8th year of his presidency planned already. Anyway, reaction to a reported ban is being handled in a totally different way. Now a lot of these extremest views about revolution and the end of society as we know it are back. But with the net there is "legitimacy" to some of these claims and some of the people sharing these views are not able to network with each other. Our first Amendment rights give us the ability to meet and talk freely and exchange ideas and information and I whole heatedly support that. I think the "Tea Parties" of recent are excellent ways to let our elected officials know that we don't agree with the spending going on in Washington.
But, as I am sure the author of the above text will confirm, people act differently as a member of a group than an individual. That's how riots generally start. People who would not normally be brazen enough to commit outright crimes will rob, assault and even kill if given the right set of social circumstances to operate under. I don't have any research to back it up, but I think that this same type of "group think" mentality extends to web interactions as well as interpersonal interactions. I think people may be driven to do things in the real world that they have only talked about doing in the cyber world if given the right amount of encouragement. The recent rise and notoriety of "flash mobs" like the one in the video before. The idea is that these folks join and organization and then are "activated" to perform in these events at a moments notice. Kind of reminds you of the Manchurian Candidate a bit, doesn't it. Anyway, even though this was for fun and laughs, just imaging what type of networks could be built for nefarious purposes if desired.
I have a "web friend" on Facebook that I have never actually met. Came across each other via another page and became "friends" after seeing that we had similar interests to include both being veterans. He is waaaaay right of me. While I dislike our current president, I am at least tolerant enough to try and hear his plan on issues before condemning him. My friend out and out hates him, he is always sending links to join groups to "impeach BHO", "BHO sucks" and the like endlessly. I know to separate my personal views from him and ignore them. Just like with most of my "real" friends I am willing to overlook their shortcomings as I hope they do my own. A lot of people can't. Somebody will end up telling someone to go bomb a post office or something stupid like that "for the people" and they'll do it without regard to the consequences.
We need to stop and think before we start spouting "revolution" - is this what we really want? Are we ready to show up like some 3rd world country in another part of the world on the news with open violence in the streets? Car bombings and kidnapping a la Iraq? I would like to think we are better than this. We have had one civil war in this country and I think that this is more than enough. Do I think the government goes over the line? Hell yes, a lot. Do I think armed rebellion is the answer, certainly not.
I maintain a small collection of arms for personal enjoyment as well as daily self defense and what I see as two main SHTF scenarios.
#1 There is some type of external attack on the US in my area (think 9/11, I would think maybe a dirty bomb in Columbus would fit here) and I need to evacuate my family from the area in a sea of other refugees while protecting them from events such as some that played out during Hurricane Katrina. Police and medical services break down, local government ceases to function and I am responsible for the safety of my own family. Again group think and mob mentality can be deadly in the right combination.
#2 An pandemic event happens (H1N1 anyone?) that again brings local service and support agencies to their knees and I again have a need to protect my family. Same criteria for a threat as above.
At no point does my planning involve joining a militia other than possibly linking with a friend or two locally if possible and required to provide greater security for our joined families. But even this is a far reaching reality since in such a time he and I will most likely be solely focused on taking care of our own needs and family members and have differing requirements of what needs to be accomplished at the time.
I am not saying that any particular militia is bad. I see videos on line where they actually train their personnel in some valid emergency and first responder techniques that may be needed at some point in the future for their members. According to the United States Code, these organizations make up the "Unorganized Militia" and are protected under the rights of the 2nd Amendment. I support them and their members fully as long as they operate under the principles of democracy under which they were intended. I will not, however, voice my support for any organization or individuals that voice their intentions to openly combat our nations government or act upon these threats. This is especially true if these organizations have not or will not attempted peaceful alleviations of their grievances through legislative or legal means first. Yes, our country needs to wake up and realize what is happening to it. We need to wake up and let our voices be heard on the phones, mailboxes and on the computer screens of our elected officials letting them know our displeasure with what we see as challenges to our Constitutional liberties under the 2nd Amendment. We need to let them know that we will voice our concern not only there but also in voting booths in November.
Next time you read or hear about revolution on the TV or radio take a step back and ask yourself "Is this what this country really needs or wants?" Hopefully, you'll come up to the same conclusion I did.
I had originally written this post this past July but decided to delay its posting to coincide with the 222th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. I missed it by one day, sorry. Even though we do not give it the celebration it deserves, I hope you take a moment each year and reflect on how great our nation truly is due to this document. While the Declaration of Independence basically told England that we were no longer its subjects, not until the Constitution did we have a document that united us as common citizens under one recognized government.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
While I am on the subject of the Glock, Business Week, where I got the vid, has several articles relating to the Glock that you may be interested in from their September 21, 2009 edition (available at your local news stand now). I make no comment on their content but simply provide them for a your reading if you so choose.
Receive a free 1 oz. trial bottle of WeaponsShield CLP simply by sending an email to the company's founder George at email@example.com with your name and address and viola! In about a week you'll get a tube of this stuff. I say a tube, but it is actually in one of those precision needle applicators. I looked it up online and if you were to buy this it would be $9.95 + shipping. You simply can't beat this deal.
Of course there's always a catch. George is hoping that after the first vial of this you'll want to buy more. I have yet to shoot with it on my weapons but I used it to clean and oil a couple of pistols to test and it seems like pretty good stuff. It has a more dense viscosity than normal military grade CLP. I plan on taking it to the range and doing an more in depth review of the product.
To some oil may be oil, but proper lubrication is one of the key factors in a weapon's reliability. According to the WeaponShield site, the patented ingredients in WeaponsShield CLP bonds to the metal surface of your weapon under heat and pressure and provide an "advanced boundary shield", providing long term protection to your investment. Sounds a lot like Slick-50 for your car, and since I think that product is worthy of my dollar I may just be back for more of this after testing it out at the range.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Most of the people who died 8 years ago did not.
Most were ordinary people like you and me. Living their daily grind not to necessarily get ahead, but to keep up with the day to day demands of living. Nobody ever asked them if they wanted to serve their country or others. Nobody ever asked them if they wanted to be part of the largest terrorist attack on American soil. Nobody ever asked them if they wanted to die that day. They just did. As we pause to remember those souls given up to the whims of a madmen that day let us remember a few who decided to live defiantly in the face of death until their last breath.
Todd Beamer and the passengers and crew of flight 93
Let's remember the heroism of Todd Beamer and the other passengers of Flight 93 that decided to fight back against the terrorists, most likely knowing that they would die in the process but others would maybe live. We know that Todd didn't take on the hijackers by himself, he had others around him who also knew the score. His voice however, will forever be remembered. His last heard statement of "Let's Roll" has become synonymous with the War on Terror (I refuse to acknowledge it by any other name) and appears on many places overseas wherever US troops are stationed. I consider their actions to be the first combat operations against Al Quaeda in the post 9/11 era. If I had my way I would sign an order ensuring that each and every one of those passengers and crew would be eligible for the Combat Action Badge.
While no official memorial has been dedicated to their actions, several unofficial memorials have been erected at the crash site to honor these Americans.
Firefighters, Police, EMS, and everyone that gave their all helping others
These people need no special explanation of their deeds, we all know of them. Firefighters and Police charging UP the stairs of the towers of the World Trade Center while flames and debris rained down around them. Service members from every branch braving a wall of flame and hazardous smoke to go search for survivors in the Pentagon. Countless civilians in all locations that gave everything they had to try and save just one life. I can count my brother as one, a medical resident at a DC hospital that was suddenly overwhelmed with burn and trauma patients and didn't leave the hospital or stop caring for the injured for 3 days. Not all of them ever got to hear the applause of others recognizing them for their actions. I have read stories of retired NYFD personnel responding to the all units call that day and never returning home. All of these people woke up one day not realizing that their lives would be changed forever.
Rick Rescorla, the right man at the right time.
This is a bit long of a read, trust me, its worth every letter.
A Tower of CourageOkay, If that doesn't make you tear up a bit or leave you a bit awed by the story of this man's life, please turn in your citizenship as you leave my country. I also give homage to his deputies that died along side him that day: Wesley Mercer, Jorge Velazquez, and Godwin Forde.
On September 11, Rick Rescorla Died as He Lived: Like a Hero
By Michael Grunwald
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 28, 2001; Page F01
"You watching TV?"
Rick Rescorla was calling from the 44th floor of the World Trade Center, icy calm in the crisis. When Rescorla was a platoon leader in Vietnam, his men called him Hard Core, because they had never seen anyone so absurdly unflappable in the face of death. Now he was vice president for corporate security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., and a jumbo jet had just plowed into the north tower. The voices of officialdom were crackling over the loudspeakers in the south tower, urging everyone to stay put: Please do not leave the building. This area is secure. Rescorla was ignoring them.
"The dumb sons of bitches told me not to evacuate," he said during a quick call to his best friend, Dan Hill, who had indeed been watching the disaster unfolding on TV. "They said it's just Building One. I told them I'm getting my people the [expletive] out of here."
Keep moving, Rescorla commanded over his megaphone while Hill listened. Keep moving.
"Typical Rescorla," Hill recalls. "Incredible under fire."
Morgan Stanley lost only six of its 2,700 employees in the south tower on Sept. 11, an isolated miracle amid the carnage. And company officials say Rescorla deserves most of the credit. He drew up the evacuation plan. He hustled his colleagues to safety. And then he apparently went back into the inferno to search for stragglers. He was the last man out of the south tower after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and no one seems to doubt that he would've been again last month if the skyscraper hadn't collapsed on him first. One of the company's secretaries actually snapped a photo of Rescorla with his megaphone that day, a 62-year-old mountain of a man coolly sacrificing his life for others.
It was an epic death, one of those inspirational hero-tales that have sprouted like wildflowers from the Twin Towers rubble. But it turns out that retired Army Col. Cyril Richard Rescorla led an epic life as well. In this time when heroes are being proclaimed all around, when brave actions are understandably hailed as proofs of character, here was a man whose heroism was a matter of public record long before Sept. 11.
At the same time, Rescorla's own fascination with heroism and hero- tales was a matter of private record. He even co-wrote a screenplay about the World War II infantry legend Audie Murphy. Rescorla was a man of introspection as well as action, and some of his final soul- searching e-mails provide an eerie commentary on his final day.
Rescorla, after all, was once an infantryman himself, declared a "battlefield legend" in the 1992 bestseller "We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young." Another photo of Rescorla -- gaunt back then, unshaven, carrying his M-16 rifle with bayonet fixed -- graced the book's cover and became an enduring image of the Vietnam War.
The survivors of the 7th Cavalry still tell awestruck stories about Rescorla. Like the time he stumbled into a hooch full of enemy soldiers on a reconnaissance patrol in Bon Song. Oh, pardon me, he said, before firing a few rounds and racing away.
"Oh comma pardon me," repeats Dennis Deal, who followed Rescorla that day in April 1966. "Like he had walked into a ladies' tea party."
Or the time a deranged private pulled a .45-caliber pistol on an officer while Rescorla was nearby, sharpening his bowie knife. "Rick just walked right between them and said: Put. Down. The. Gun," recalls Bill Lund, who served with Rescorla in Vietnam. "And the guy did. Then Rick went back to his knife. He was flat out the bravest man any of us ever knew."
Rescorla was also a passionate and complex man, a writer and a lawyer, as well as a blood-streaked warrior and six-figure security expert. At his home in suburban Morristown, N.J., he carved wooden ducks, frequented craft fairs, took playwriting classes. He wrote romantic poetry to his second wife, Susan, and renewed their vows after just one year of marriage. "He was a song-and-dance man," she says. He was a weeper, too. He liked to quote Shakespeare and Tennyson and Byron -- and Elvis and Burt Lancaster. He was a film buff, history buff, pottery buff -- "pretty much any kind of buff you can be," says his daughter, Kim. He liked to point his Lincoln Mark VIII in random directions and see where it would take him.
In his last days, Rescorla had been reading up on Zen Buddhism and the Stoics, contemplating the directions his own life had taken him. A few years ago, he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer that had spread into his bones. His doctors had given him six months to live. But the cancer was in remission, and he couldn't help but wonder what it all meant. In a Sept. 5 e-mail to his old friend Bill Shucart -- once a medic in Vietnam, now the head of neurosurgery at a Boston hospital -- he mused about kairos, a Greek word for a cosmically meaningful moment outside of linear time.
"I have accepted the fact that there will never be a kairos moment for me, just an uneventful Miltonian plow-the-fields discipline . . . a few more cups of mocha grande at Starbucks, each one losing a little bit more of its flavor," he wrote.
But Rescorla's moment was coming soon.
This American story began in England.
Rescorla was born in Hayle, a seaport on the north coast of Cornwall. He was the only child of a single mom, although he didn't know that as a boy. He thought he had a traditional family with married parents, a much older sister and an older brother. He only found out later that his parents were really his grandparents. His "sister" and "brother" were his mother and uncle. No matter. It was still a close family. He called his mother Sis until the day he died. He never did meet his father.
Rescorla's neighbor and friend Mervyn Sullivan, a retired meter reader, remembers him as "a natural number one man," a broad- shouldered, curly-haired man-child who wowed the girls and led the boys. Rescorla, known as Tammy then, was also a talented, hypercompetitive rugby player. Sullivan still sports a scar on his forehead where Rescorla kicked him 50 years ago while chasing a ball - - and Rescorla was on his team that day.
"There was no need for that kick! No one was anywhere near us. We could've had a cup of coffee!" Sullivan recalls. "But that was Tammy, you know. Totally committed."
Hayle was a working-class tin-mining town, and the Rescorlas were a working-class family. But Tammy wanted to see the world -- and some action. He joined the British paratroopers as a teenager, then served as an intelligence officer in violence-torn Cyprus. He later joined Her Majesty's colonial force in Northern Rhodesia as a commando. As Northern Rhodesia -- now Zambia -- began its transition to independence, Rescorla returned to London to serve in Scotland Yard's elite "flying squad" of detectives. But the job and the paperwork bored him.
He was looking for a fight. In 1963, America seemed to be looking for one, too.
So Rescorla reported for basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., a mercenary at 24. "He was looking for bang-bang shoot-'em-up," says his best friend, Hill, who met him at Fort Dix.
Rescorla and Hill, who was starting his second Army tour, were the only grunts at Fort Dix with combat experience. It was the same story when they began Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga. -- the so-called Benning School for Boys was a hotbed of fresh-faced college graduates. Again, Rescorla emerged as a swaggering leader, belting out Cornish songs in his lusty baritone when his classmates were stressed out and exhausted.
After graduating as a second lieutenant in April 1965, Rescorla was assigned to lead a platoon in Bravo Company of the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry -- once General Custer's outfit at Little Big Horn, now the vanguard of a new helicopter-based "air-mobile" fighting concept designed for Southeast Asia. That fall, President Johnson shipped him to Vietnam.
"Most of us were in awe of Rick," recalls Larry Froelich, an OCS classmate who is now the news editor at the Lexington (Ky.) Herald- Leader. "It came as no surprise when the stories began to trickle back from Vietnam about his exploits in the field."
The Vietnam War entered a new realm of seriousness on Nov. 14, 1965, in the elephant grass and termite hills of the Ia Drang Valley. That remote swath of the Central Highlands became known as the Valley of Death. And as retired Army Gen. Harold G. Moore and war correspondent Joseph Galloway wrote in "We Were Soldiers," their narrative of Ia Drang: "Rescorla, as usual, was in the middle of it all." In "Baptism," another Vietnam memoir, Larry Gwin dedicated an entire chapter of hagiography to Rescorla, describing him as a charming raconteur with a "crazed irreverent twinkle" at play, but also a ruthless killer with a "cold steely glint that could sear through you like the icy stare of death" in the bush.
"Rescorla was the best platoon leader I ever saw," says Moore, who will be played by Mel Gibson in an upcoming movie based on "We Were Soldiers." "What a unique man."
American troops were encircled that first night at a landing zone they called X-Ray, and one company was virtually wiped out in a hellish firefight. The next day, Rescorla's company was ordered to replace it on the perimeter at the foot of the Chu Pong mountain ridge. In a later letter to Moore and Galloway, Rescorla recalled that when he arrived -- after a U.S. fighter jet had mistakenly dropped napalm on his men -- he found corpses scattered everywhere from the night before, including an American with his hands still clenched around a North Vietnamese soldier's throat.
"Are your men up for this? Do you feel they can hold?" asked Myron Diduryk, his commander.
"If they break through us, sir, you'll be the first to know," Rescorla replied.
That night, Rescorla risked sniper fire to study the terrain from the enemy viewpoint. He ordered his men to dig new foxholes 50 yards back, lay booby traps, reposition their machine guns and artillery. After midnight, he sang a slow Cornish mining tune: "Going Up Cambourne Hill Coming Down." Lund remembers Rescorla stopping by his foxhole to reset his bayonet and critique his fields of fire, joking as if they were preparing to play paintball.
"What a command presence," recalls Lund, who now runs a cell phone accessory business in Omaha. "We all thought we were going to die that night, and Rescorla gave us our courage back. I figured, if he's walking around singing, the least I can do is stop trembling."
The next morning, Bravo Company beat back four assaults, mowing down about 200 enemy soldiers while sustaining only a few injuries.
"A quietness settled over the field," Rescorla wrote later. "We put more rounds into clumps of bodies nearest our holes, making sure. . . . Forty yards away a young North Vietnamese soldier popped up from behind a tree. He started his limping run back the way he had come. I fired two rounds. He crumpled. I chewed the line out for failure to fire quickly."
It sounds heartless, but Rescorla had a nasty job. Minutes later, he saved several of his men by dropping a grenade on an enemy machine- gunner. Rescorla still had the gunner's brain matter on his fatigues when his company was airlifted back to base.
"The stench of the dead would stay with me for years after the battle," he wrote. "Below us the pockmarked earth was dotted with enemy dead. . . . A grenadier next to me threw up on my lap. He was, like many, a man who had fought bravely even though he had no stomach for the bloodletting."
There was more to come. The next day, while Bravo Company rested, the rest of its battalion marched into a vicious ambush near a landing zone called Albany. Bravo was sent back to the rescue. "You know the battalion is in the [expletive]," Rescorla told his men. "We've been selected to jump into that [expletive] and pull them out." Once again, Rescorla sprinted into a ragged perimeter -- after a bone-rattling 10-foot jump from a Huey under fire -- and immediately lifted the spirits of weary soldiers who thought they were done.
"My God, it was like Little Big Horn," recalls Pat Payne, a reconnaissance platoon leader. "We were all cowering in the bottom of our foxholes, expecting to get overrun. Rescorla gave us courage to face the coming dawn. . . . He looked me in the eye and said, 'When the sun comes up, we're gonna kick some . . . .' "
Sure enough, the battalion fought its way out of Albany. Rescorla left the field with a morale-boosting souvenir: a battered French Army bugle that the North Vietnamese had once claimed as a trophy of war. It became a talisman for his entire division. But 305 Americans died in the Ia Drang, more than in the entire Persian Gulf War. The North Vietnamese death toll was 3,561. Even worse, leaders on each side concluded after the battle that they would be able to outlast the other side in a war of attrition.
Rescorla served one tour in Vietnam, earning a Silver Star, a Purple Heart and Bronze Stars for Valor and Meritorious Service, in addition to his $241.20-per-month salary.
He hated the way the Washington politicians were running things, with their kill ratios and no-fire zones and half-baked commitment to victory. He believed they were underestimating the enemy's resolve, mistaking fervent nationalism for Soviet-style communism, piling up body bags in a losing cause.
He liked to say the higher-ups "saw things through the rosy red hue."
"When I heard that Rick had quit the war, I felt in my heart that this was the wrong war for us," Froelich recalls. "I never thought he'd walk away from a noble pursuit."
In "Audie," the film script Rescorla wrote a few years ago with his friend Jim Morris, Audie Murphy cannot escape his past or his pain. He is "walking wounded," opening fire at his own alarm clock. He runs up gambling debts. He complains he's got no civilian skills except shining shoes and robbing banks. "How do you like sitting on that pedestal?" he is asked.
"I coulda done without it," he replies.
Rescorla did not want an Audie Murphy life after his war.
So he finished his Army tour back at Fort Benning, where he got his U.S. citizenship, then set off for the University of Oklahoma on the GI Bill in 1968. He hung around bookstores and coffee shops. He read up on American Indians and the Wild West. He studied creative writing. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in literature, then began law school.
"I'm sure everyone's talking about Rick the Celtic warrior, Rick the hero, but he also had a deep intelligence," says Fred McBee, a fellow student who later became a philosophy professor. "He'd lay Shakespeare on you. He'd quote Proust."
He also trained officers for the Oklahoma National Guard and took another job training security guards in hand-to-hand combat. But although he remained in the Army Reserve for years, the pure-macho stage of his life was over. He married a special-needs teacher in 1972 and became a criminal justice professor at the University of South Carolina. Elizabeth Rescorla, his first wife, once found his medals hidden in a round tin in their attic.
"He always said: 'The war was part of my life. It's not my life,' " she says.
Academia, however, was not his calling. "Can you imagine Rescorla sitting around with a damn pipe in his mouth?" Hill asks. The money wasn't great, either. So Rescorla shifted into corporate security, first at the Bank Administration Institute, then at a Chicago bank. In 1985 he moved to New Jersey to be director of security for the Wall Street brokerage Dean Witter, which later merged with the investment bank Morgan Stanley. He brought a military regimen to the job, frequently calling his guards at night to make sure they were at their posts, constantly analyzing new security threats. During the Gulf War, Hill says, Rescorla concluded that the main threat at the World Trade Center was an underground truck bomb.
"We walked the garage together, and that was obviously the soft spot," says Hill, who had been hired by Rescorla as a consultant. "He told Port Authority, but they said it was none of his business."
In 1993, of course, a terrorist truck bomb in that very garage created pandemonium. Legend has it that Rescorla dropped his pants to get the mob's attention, but that Rescorla legend is not quite true. He only jumped on a desk in the middle of the firm and threatened to drop his pants if his people didn't chill out and listen. In the stunned silence that followed, he launched an orderly evacuation, refusing to leave until the entire tower was empty.
Meanwhile, he and Elizabeth were raising a family. Trevor was born in 1976, a brawny kid with his dad's easygoing charm. Kim arrived in 1978, a thoughtful kid with her dad's creative flair. Rescorla coached their soccer teams, shouted at their referees. He watched movies with them, especially westerns, especially John Wayne westerns. He edited Kim's poetry in red pen and taught her how to sneak books under her covers after her mother demanded lights out. He boxed in the basement with Trevor.
"He'd cheat," Trevor recalls with a grin. "He'd throw elbows. He'd shoulder me into the sofa. But I got him a few times, and he'd always be proud: 'Hey, T knocked me down!' "
Today, both children are following their father's paths. Trevor is a security guard, considering a career in law enforcement. Kim is a law student.
They want people to know that their dad was only human. He could be stubborn, impatient, impolitic. He didn't have much of a filter between thought and speech. His first marriage dissolved in the mid- '90s, and there were fights over money. In Cyprus, he once backed a jeep into a restaurant after a night of drinking. He once told his National Guard bosses that they didn't have nearly enough combat experience to evaluate him. He didn't suffer fools at all.
But even his ex-wife wants people to know about his kindness. He used to shovel an old lady's driveway after every snowstorm. He once drove home to fetch a sleeping bag for a homeless man. He bought a co- worker a ticket home to Jamaica after a death in her family.
When Rescorla returned to Hayle to visit his mother, he always called on a lonely blind man named Stanley Sullivan at the town's nursing home. Sullivan loved his pint, and Rescorla always brought him cans of Guinness. Then they would sing Cornish oldies like "The White Rose" into the night, tears streaming down their faces.
"My God, I'm thinking of Tammy sitting on that bed, with his huge arm cuddling that frail man," sobs Rescorla's lifelong friend Mervyn Sullivan, no relation to Stanley.
Vietnam was always in the background, but Rescorla tried to keep it in the background. He told Kim that he was no longer the same man who used to kill 20 people before breakfast. He felt uneasy at reunions, complaining in an e-mail to Shucart about their "strange mixture of sentimentality, camaraderie, hucksterism and revisionist history." He once wrote that men who died in Vietnam were "as valid as any American hero in any war this country has ever fought," and he often visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. But he could not relate to veterans who still greeted him with "Welcome home, brother," who never got over their bitter homecomings.
"We didn't get no parade," a Vietnam vet tells Audie Murphy in Rescorla's script.
"My whole life has been a parade," Murphy replies. "Makes no difference."
One day in July 1998, Rescorla went jogging near his home, not far from the headquarters where George Washington spent two winters with his Continental Army. A divorced mother of three named Susan Greer was out walking her golden retriever.
"What are you doing?" she asked the passing jogger. "Why are you barefoot?"
Rescorla explained that he was working on a screenplay about Northern Rhodesia, where the people ran barefoot, and that he wanted to see what it felt like. It was the start of an abbreviated love story. In February 1999, they were married.
"I knew he was sick," says Susan, weeping at the memory. "But I also knew that if I only had five minutes with him, it would be the best five minutes of my life."
The Rescorlas moved into a Morristown subdivision called Windmill Pond, where they could sit on their patio and talk and watch the ducks float by. They would break into impromptu dances while running errands. She started fleeing girls-nights-out before dessert, because she hated to be without him for a whole evening. He wrote her a poem called "Soulmate just before dawn":
Awakening in the dark
when the geese are silent on the pond
your steady breathing helps me
face the daybreak with a smile
Susan introduced him to herbal medicine, and the Chinese roots and grains and gelatin caps seemed to work wonders. He still took hormones that made him puffy -- he was nearly 300 pounds, and he hated it -- but he felt healthy, and his bone scans were clean.
Last May, on a trip to Cornwall, the Rescorlas decided to renew their vows outside an old Norman church. "We had taken such long journeys to find each other. We wanted to savor every moment," Susan says. Rick had always liked churches for their architecture, but in his reading about religion he had come to believe in an ordered universe, in a higher power.
"The blossoming hawthorn tree nearby reminds us of the natural and orderly course of time," he wrote for their new vows. "We are aware that our time on earth is brief: the footprints that we make in this sandy soil will one day be washed away by an eternal tide."
Rescorla was thinking about those footprints in the months before he died. In April, when he was inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame, he philosophized over a few drinks with Hill, the best man at both of his weddings. "God, look at us," he told Hill, a convert to Islam who had just undergone major heart surgery. "We should have died performing some great deed -- go out in a blaze of glory, not end up with somebody spoon-feeding us and changing our nappies."
Then there was that September kairos e-mail to Shucart, his medic- turned-surgeon pal.
"I'm enjoying life at 62," he wrote. "Mulling over a lot of interesting stuff on Stoicism/Zen/Pantheism while trying to wrap the last few years of my security job with some degree of aplomb." He quoted "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," the T.S. Eliot poem about an aging man afraid to seize the day: "Do I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?"
Rescorla confided to Shucart that he was frightened about retirement, nervous that his "most significant contribution" was long in the past. But for all his gloomy musings about mocha grande and the elusive kairos moment, he was engrossed in an "inspirational" biography of Sitting Bull: "Countering the pessimism is the artistic/ literary impulse." And he was "very happily married." Maybe, he suggested, there was still some living to do.
"Carpe diem," he wrote. "Let's Corvette ourselves forward into that dark night, Butch and Sundance. The outlaw streak . . . will serve us well, prepare us for that moment of truth."
It doesn't sound real, now that Rescorla's moment of truth has been captured in a snapshot. But Rescorla never sounded real. Morris says he often rewrote Rescorla's dialogue for the "Audie" script. "I told him: 'Look, it's too epic. People don't talk like that,' " he recalls. "I mean, Rescorla talked like that, but no one else does."
This was Rescorla's last e-mail to his daughter at law school, dated Sept. 10:
"Your mission . . . should you choose to accept it . . . dream, then scheme. . . . This country will be coming out of its slump about two years from now. It's going to be a time for legal eagles of all kinds to leave their rocky promontories, spread their wings, and do what eagles tend to do. . . ."
On Sept. 11, Rick Rescorla's alarm bounced him out of bed at 4:30 a.m.
Susan remembers him emerging from the bathroom, imitating Anthony Hopkins as the weirdo ventriloquist in "Magic," the movie they had rented the night before.
Then he broke into a British ditty, but she can't remember which one. She wishes she could.
He put on a gray shirt and a custom-made pinstripe suit.
She selected his matching red silk tie.
They kissed goodbye, and Rick was gone, off to the commuter train.
He called Susan at 8:15 a.m. from his corner office on the 44th floor.
"He told me he loved me. He said he didn't need the movies -- he had me," she says.
Rescorla wasn't even supposed to be at work that day. Susan's daughter Alexandra was getting married the next week in a 10th- century Tuscan castle, and they had planned to go abroad early. But his deputy, Ihab Dana, wanted to visit Lebanon, so Rescorla delayed his own vacation. "It should've been me in there," Dana says. "Rick was like a father to me."
The first plane struck the north tower at 8:48 a.m. Moments later, Morgan Stanley employees began evacuating the 44th through 74th floors.
"Really, Rick made that decision in 1993," Dana says. "He saved thousands of lives."
After the truck bombing that year, Rescorla had warned Hill: Next time by air. He expected a cargo plane, possibly loaded with chemical or biological weapons. In any case, he insisted on marching his troops through evacuation drills every few months. The investment bankers and brokers would gripe, but Rescorla would respond with his Seven P's: Proper prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance. He wanted to develop an automatic flight response at Morgan Stanley, to burn it into the company's DNA.
According to Barbara Williams, a security guard who worked for him for 11 years, Rescorla was in his office when the first plane hit. He took a call from the 71st floor reporting the fireball in One World Trade Center, and he immediately ordered an evacuation of all 2,700 employees in Building Two, as well as 1,000 Morgan Stanley workers in Building Five across the plaza. They walked down two stairways, two abreast, just as they had practiced. Williams could see Rescorla on a security camera with his bullhorn, dealing with a bottleneck on the 44th-floor lobby, keeping people off the elevators.
"Calm, as always," she says.
In his cell phone call to Hill, Rescorla said he had just spoken to a Port Authority official, who had told him to keep everyone at their stations. "I said: Everything above where that plane hit is gonna collapse," Rescorla recounted to Hill. "The overweight will take the rest of the building with it. And Building One could take out Building Two."
That, of course, is not exactly what ended up happening. But by the time the second hijacked jet rammed into the south tower at 9:07 a.m., many Morgan Stanley employees were already out of the building, and just about all of them were on their way out.Although never verified, this picture supposedly shows Rick Rescorla and two of his employees on the morning of 9/11 directing Morgan Stanley employees out of the building. Because of his actions, only 6 of 2700 Morgan Stanley employees lost their lives on 9/11. Think about this next time you have a fire or safety drill at work and how much thought you put into it.
The rest of Rick Rescorla's morning is shrouded in some mystery. The tower went dark. Fire raged. Windows shattered. Rescorla headed upstairs before moving down; he helped evacuate several people above the 50th floor. Stephan Newhouse, chairman of Morgan Stanley International, said at a memorial service in Hayle that Rescorla was spotted as high as the 72nd floor, then worked his way down, clearing floors as he went. He was telling people to stay calm, pace themselves, get off their cell phones, keep moving. At one point, he was so exhausted he had to sit for a few minutes, although he continued barking orders through his bullhorn. Morgan Stanley officials said he called headquarters shortly before the tower collapsed to say he was going back up to search for stragglers.
John Olson, a Morgan Stanley regional director, saw Rescorla reassuring colleagues in the 10th-floor stairwell. "Rick, you've got to get out, too," Olson told him.
"As soon as I make sure everyone else is out," Rescorla replied.
Morgan Stanley officials say Rescorla also told employees that "today is a day to be proud to be American" and that "tomorrow, the whole world will be talking about you." They say he also sang "God Bless America" and Cornish folk tunes in the stairwells. Those reports could not be confirmed, although they don't sound out of character. He liked to sing in a crisis.
But the documented truth is impressive enough. Morgan Stanley managing director Bob Sloss was the only employee who didn't evacuate the 66th floor after the first plane hit, pausing to call his family and several underlings, even taking a call from a Bloomberg News reporter. Then the second plane hit, and his office walls cracked, and he felt the tower wagging like a dog's tail. He clambered down to the 10th floor, and there was Rescorla, sweating through his suit in the heat, telling people they were almost out, making no move to leave himself.
"He was selfless in that situation, and that's your ultimate character test," Sloss says. "He was not rattled at all. He was putting the lives of his colleagues ahead of his own."
Susan Rescorla watched the United Airlines jet carve through her husband's tower, and she dissolved in tears. After a while, her phone rang. It was Rick.
"I don't want you to cry," he said. "I have to evacuate my people now."
She kept sobbing.
"If something happens to me, I want you to know that you made my life."
The phone went dead.
Susan watched the south tower implode in that unforgettable plume of smoke. She ran wailing into the street. She doesn't know why she did that. One of her neighbors did the same thing -- her husband had been at a meeting on the 100th floor.
The Rescorlas embarked on the grieving rituals that became so familiar to the world. The trips from hospital to hospital. The posters. The vigils. The desperate hope: If anyone could make it out of there, Rick could.
She kept calling his cell phone and hearing his message and disintegrating all over again.
Rick did not make it out. Neither did two of his security officers who were at his side. But only three other Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated.
The Rescorlas are still waiting for a body, or even a positive identification of some remains. Susan brought Rick's hairbrush to the victim center on the Manhattan piers. Trevor gave a saliva sample. But Rick never wanted a fancy funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. He wanted to be cremated with no fanfare. He told Susan that if she wanted a memorial, he'd be okay with a plaque at a nearby bird sanctuary called the Raptors. It'll go on the American eagle cage.
"My Rick has spread his wings and soared into eternity," Susan keeps saying.
Life goes on. Dana is drawing up a new security plan for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, trying to imagine what his fallen boss would do. Jacqueline Landrau, a Morgan Stanley payroll clerk, gave birth to an eight-pound baby boy two days after she escaped from the 45th floor. The company is expected to announce widespread layoffs soon. Its $220 million lawsuit against the Port Authority for negligence before the 1993 bombing is scheduled to go to trial next year. It turns out that the agency's own consultants had also warned that the underground garage offered "an enormous opportunity . . . for a terrorist to park an explosive-filled vehicle." Alexandra went ahead with her wedding, not in Tuscany, but in Morristown.
Meanwhile, the citizens of Hayle are raising money for a statue of their native son. Gen. Moore is pushing for a posthumous Medal of Freedom. Robin Williams read a short tribute to Rescorla on that all- star telethon broadcast in 156 countries. Morris is shopping the Audie Murphy script around Hollywood. Next month, the veterans of Ia Drang will honor Rescorla at their annual reunion in Washington. And the big-budget "We Were Soldiers" film is coming out next year. Rescorla's company was edited out of the script, but the bugle he recovered at Albany will make an appearance.
In the end, there was no great mystery to Rescorla's actions on Sept. 11.
It would have been mysterious if he had reacted any differently. And everyone who knew Rescorla agrees that if he had survived the evacuation, he would have said he was just doing his job. That's what Rescorla said after Vietnam, what Audie Murphy said after World War II.
"The man died as he lived," says Galloway, the co-author of "We Were Soldiers," who is now a consultant for Secretary of State Colin Powell. "What makes some people react like this, God only knows. In Rick's case, you always expected it."
The only real mystery is why Rescorla ultimately got his chance to Corvette forward into that dark night, why he never had to get spoon- fed in his nappies. It is not the kind of mystery that could ever be solved.
But to the friends he left behind, his death made a kind of cosmic sense on a day when the universe was out of order: The right man in the right place at the right time. He left in a blaze of glory. With no parade.
Sung by Rick in his final hours while evacuating others:
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!
Thank you to all of our heroes that lived, and died, on that day and every day since in our ongoing war and efforts to rid the world of people responsible for this madness.