Friday, September 09, 2005

Nine Eleven -- A Memorial

A couple weeks after 9/11 I was in the hospital waiting room. The television was droning something that someone else was watching; when Robin Williams came on with one of those short commemorations to the heroes of 9/11. I glanced at the screen and saw . . .

. . . Major Rescorla was the squadron executive officer of our reserve unit.

Something of a legend, he had served in three armies,
with a Silver Star, Bronze Stars with “V”s, Purple Hearts,
and too much else to count. At first glance a snake eater,
but when you talked to him you realized the tough
exterior hid a deep intellect and compassion.

Loud, larger than life, and full of fun,
he could take the joke as well as give it out.
As he was walking back to our area one day the
Sergeants decided to from a “chain.” They walked
past him with just enough interval that he had
to return thirty some hand salutes one at a time.
He was laughing out loud by the end of the chain.

As XO, he was the chief of staff, a staff that didn’t
call attention to itself, but plans worked and soldiers
were supported. And always, more than most any officer
I ever met, he would always make the extra effort
to take care of his soldiers. To the point of making
a trip to Division HQ to get a privates records
straightened out.

When we had Squadron runs he would finish close behind
the nineteen year olds, and without missing a step turn
around go to the rear, set a pace and hustle up the stragglers.

He had the stereotypical command voice of a British
Regimental Sergeant Major. A little less effective
when we realized his bark was worse than his bite.
One summer camp the officers were put in the Hospital
area for quarters. The lieutenants and captains in
one wing and the Major and Colonel in the next, they
wanted some quiet. However it turned out the next wing
over housed the enlisted soldiers of the hospital.
And inclined to spend all night partying on the lawn
between the wings. Until one night about 0100 hours
Major Rescorla stood on the porch in his skivvies
and with that command voice put them to bed.

He was promoted and took command of another
squadron and then moved to New York for
his civilian job.

When the planes hit, the evacuation plan was sound
and rehearsed. He took 2500 people out of the building
on the sound of that voice. When informed some his
people were still in the building he went back
to get them. Last seen going up.

. . . And as Robin went off and the TV returned to the regularly scheduled commercials I was thinking. . .

“Husslin’ up stragglers, couldn’t do any thing else!”

Richard C Rescorla, Colonel, Infantry, USAR, Retired.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.


Baron Bodissey said...

Hank -- I just this morning discovered that you were unaccountably missing from our blogroll. I have rectified that.

I guess we'd been using book marks to get to you and never realized the omission. Very sorry about that.

hank_F_M said...


Thank you much. I think that puts you in a very select group of two blogs.


Anonymous said...

Hank, thanks for enabling outsiders to comment. I was particularly keen to add my tribute to this brave man who, as I understand it, showed not only physical courage but moral courage as well in that he made himself very unpopular prior to 9/11 (which he was convinced would happen one day or at least something similar) by insisting on regular fire drills *including* the top brass irrespective of what they were engaged in at the time.

I would admire him anyway, but it is nice to know he was an Englishman by birth.

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