As another Memorial Day passes I thought it would be good not only to remember all those who we owe our freedom to, but to point out the actions of one of these heros in particular. To do that i decided to read a war story today. On this special day, it was time well spent. A fitting way to personally honor those who make my life possible.
I read about the Battle of Ia Drang in November 1965. It's more like the massacre at la Drang, as the battlefield was a modern day killing field. By the time the battle was over, over 1300 men were dead in the elephant grass, 300+ of them Americans. Many had died in intense hand to hand combat. One dead American was found with his hands on the throat of his dead enemy.
The Americans in a test of a new strategy called Air mobility, had flown into the area looking for a fight. Within minutes, they had one. Out numbered five to one. Within 25 minutes five GIs in one platoon were dead, including it's leaders. It would only get worse. As the NVA wounded GIs they would move in stand over them and shoot them in the head to finish them. They then stripped them of guns ammo and anything else they could use.
The NVA had surmounted a three prong attack. They had seperated one of the american platoons and were slowly killing all the men in that platoon. The other platoons had their hands full as well, full on close combat Only bringing in artillery and airstrikes saved them from being overrun.
Three days after it started it was over. Or so the commanders at HQ thought. The Americans were mopping up, collecting their dead, convinced that the NVA with as many as 1000 dead were non operational. WIth no reason to press on it was time to call in the ride home. Airlift the companies out. But HQ thought that would be a sign of weakness, and ordered a march forward. Thus the men started marching forward. What they didn't realize is that they were marching straight into an NVA battalion. They were marching into an ambush! Four hours of marching and the small arms fire started. The ensuing battle took 16 hours to complete. Napalm leadened airstrikes killed as many of our men as it did our enemy's. The NVA leaders had learned over the past 4 days that to avoid the airstrikes one must grab them by the belt. Thus more terrifying hand to hand combat with an enemy that just didn't stop coming. Reinforcements were brougt in to even the odds.
When the ambush started the the men were strung out in a 500 yard long exposed line. it was a killing zone.
We learned a lot about jungle warfare that week. The price was a lot of American blood.
Among those in the fight in the grasslands surrounding Chu Pong Mountain was a young Lieutenant. He was a platoon leader for Bravo company. In fact, by the battle's end, he was the only surviving platoon leader in Bravo company. His men nick named him "Hard Core" because of his relentless bravery. In a book about the battle, there is an entire chapter dedicated to him, outlining his brave actions on those killing fields. His name, Lt. Rick Rescorla.
He described the aftermath of the ambush as "a long bloody traffic accident in the jungle." Lt Rick survived the high grass experiment in air mobility to eventually go on to become a Colonel. Once out of the army he went back to school getting a masters degree and a law degree. He worked a series of security jobs eventually landing a job as head of security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in NYC.
As the head of security Rick Rescorla had a big problem with the World Trade Center, it was a target. Specifically, it was venerable to a truck bomb attack on it's pillars in the parking garage. In 1992 he told this to his superiors and to the building's owners, the Port Authority. No one listened and one year later the buildings were bombed. Rescorla was the last person out of the building that winter day as he rescued as many people as he could reach.
Rescorla practically plead with his bosses to close shop in WTC2. He told them it was only a matter of time. His bosses listened, they respected his opinion, But, ultimately the dollar was the decider and the leases weren't up until 2006. Rescorla then resorted to Plan B, endless evacuation drills and and safety meetings.
On September 11, 2001, Rescorla, who was suppose to be on vacation, worked to give one of his men off instead. He escorted as many people out of the WTC2 as he could before it collapsed. Of MSDW's 2700 WTC employees at the WTC that day only six died. Rescorla and three of his security detail were four of those six. Rescorla was last seen on the tenth floor going up. His remains have never been found.
Colonel Richard Cyril Rescorla:
Bronze Star - with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry
Hero- Thank you Lt Rick for making this day possible.
Remember all of the Americans fromn that ter rible tragedy. It seems the world has forgetten! Your story brought tears to my eyes and a heavy heart. Makes you realize what is important is not the money but what you leave as a legacy to others. God Bless Him and all!