The last two lessons focused on Hal Moore and his example of leadership, particularly in the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam. On the cover of the book, We Were Soldiers Once…and Young, was one of Moore’s platoon leaders. His name was Rick Rescorla. Moore wrote:
Lieutenant Rescorla was one of the best combat leaders I ever saw during two tours in Vietnam. He walked around and pepped everyone up by telling them they’d done a good job, that there was support now, and that things were under control.
Cyril Richard (“Rick”) Rescorla was a British citizen from Cornwall. After serving in a British parachute regiment, he joined the US Army and served as a lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmoble) under Hal Moore. He would earn the Silver Star and Bronze star in Vietnam. He retired from the Army reserve as a colonel.
After he returned from Vietnam, he earned a bachelors and masters degree in English. This was followed by a law degree. Rescorla taught criminal justice at the University of South Carolina.
In 1985, Rescorla became the director of security for Dean Witter. Dean Witter later merged with Morgan Stanley, where he served as vice president of security. After the 1993 World Trade Center attack, he became quite concerned that another attack would take place. He developed emergency plans and he drilled them again and again.
On September 11, 2001, Americans were attacked in a way that was unimaginable to most people, but Rick Rescorla was prepared. The first plane hit the north tower at 8:48 AM. According to Amanda Ripley in The Unthinkable, “A port authority official came over the public address system and urged everyone to remain at their desks. But Rescorla grabbed his bullhorn, his walkie-talkie, and his cell phone and began systematically ordering Morgan Stanley employees to get out.”
Rescorla had mercilessly drilled Morgan Stanley employees for emergency evacuations. “Each drill, which pulled the firm’s brokers off the phones and away from their computers, cost the company money. But Rescorla did it anyway. He didn’t care.”
His preparations would soon pay off as he began systematically clearing Morgan Stanley employees from the building. Morgan Stanley employees spanned the 44th to 74th floors of the south tower.
According to the Washington Post,
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….
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.
Rescorla was last seen on the tenth floor, climbing up into the tower to rescue more people. He is credited with saving 2,687 Morgan Stanley employees. Only six Morgan Stanley employees lost their lives on 9/11—including Rick.
Robert Greenleaf is the founder of the academic school of thought known as Servant Leadership. In his essay, The Servant as Leader, Greenleaf wrote:
The failure (or refusal) to foresee may be viewed as an ethical failure, because a serious ethical compromise today (when the usual judgment on ethical inadequacy is made) is sometimes the result of a failure to make the effort at an earlier date to foresee today’s events and take the right actions when there was freedom for initiative to act.
Rescorla made the intentional effort to meet the challenges of the future. He had been preoccupied with security since the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Eight and a half years later, he expected the unexpected.
2,996 people died on 9/11. How many more would have perished if men like Rick Rescorla had not had the foresight to plan, to drill, and to override the Port Authority announced that Tuesday morning?
A statue dedicated to Rick Rescorla now stands on the Walk of Honor at the National Infantry Museum, Ft Benning, GA. It features a young Lt. Rescorla—the one on the cover of the book.
But his greater legacy is in the 2, 687 lives he saved on 9/11. This legacy was due to his foresight. As LTC Moore wrote in his Ia Drang After Action Report: “The commander on the battlefield must continually anticipate what the future may bring or could bring and take steps to influence the future before it comes about.” That is foresight.
Note: You can learn more about Rescorla in the documentary, The Man Who Predicted 9/11. You can see a clip here.
What About You?
What are you doing now to improve your foresight?
 Moore, H. G., & Galloway, J. L. (1992). We were soldiers once…And young.New York: Random House Publishing Group. (p. 303).
 Ripley, A. (2009) The unthinkable. New York: Three Rivers Press. (p. 208).
 Ripley, A. (2009) The unthinkable. New York: Three Rivers Press. (p. 205).
 Grunwald, M. (2001). A tower of courage. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2001/10/28/a-tower-of-courage/c53e8244-3754-440f-84f8-51f841aff6c8/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1dc2afa56ac7