Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Hustlin' Up Stragglers

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 . . .

Colonel Rescorla Official Photo

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

Something of a legend, he had served in three armies, in Viet Nam a hero of the battle of Ia Drang, a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Oak leaf Cluster and “V”, Purple Heart, 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..

Rescorla 9/11When 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 hustle them out. 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.
Grant him Eternal Rest Lord - and let Your Eternal Light shine upon him.


LFC said...

On the PBS NewsHour tonight (which I listened to on the radio as I don't have a functioning TV at the moment) there was a story about an opera that has been written about Rescorla.

hank_F_M said...


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