Veterans Saluted at Ceremony at Mt. Soledad (Photos)

U.S. Army Col. Cyril Richard "Rick" Rescorla was honored Saturday afternoon at Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Veterans Day ceremony in La Jolla.

If you love freedom, thank a veteran and our active military.

That was the message on the front of Saturday's veterans ceremony at Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial. The annual event attracted hundreds of attendees including San Diego City Council members Kevin Faulconer, Todd Gloria and Sherri Lightner, San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego), Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-San Diego) and numerous veterans.

A plaque was dedicated to the late U.S. Army Col. Cyril Richard "Rick" Rescorla, who died in September 11. After serving the British Army and the U.S. Army, where he earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Hear and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Rescorla served as the director of security for Morgan Stanley in the World Trade Center.

Because he predicted, prior to 9/11, that there would be terrorist attacks on the Center, he concluded that employees of the company, occupying 22 floors, could not rely on first responders in an emergency. Therefore, he initiated a series of surprise fire drills, in which he trained employees to quickly evacuate via the stairs. Rick's strict approach to these drills put him in conflict with some who resented the interruptions to their daily activities, but he nonetheless insisted that repetition of these rehearsals was necessary to train the employees in the event of an actual emergency. As a result, Rescorla's evacuation procedures are credited with saving thousands of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter lives.

On September 11, American Airlines Flight 11 struck World Trade Center 1. Rescorla heard the explosion and saw the Tower burning from his office window. When a Port Authority announcement came over the P.A. system urging people to stay at their desks, Rescorla ignored the announcement, grabbed his bullhorn, walkie-talkie and cell phone, and began systematically ordering Morgan Stanley Dean Witter employees to evacuate. He directed people down a stairwell from the 44th floor, continuously calming employees as they descended. After successfully evacuation some 2,700 of the firm's employees, he went back inside the building to make sure there were no stragglers. He was last seen heading up the stairs shortly before the tower collapsed. His remains were never found.

A flyover was conducted to recognize Rescorla.


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