As many of you know Patty and I were invited to the White House to witness President Trump present the Presidential Citizens Medal posthumously to Rick Rescorla. His widow Susan accepted the medal and then gave it to Rick’s son Trevor.
This link will take you to a YouTube video of President Trump’s presentation and Susan’s talk.
A few things about the presentation:
- Prior to the presentation the President met privately with Susan, Rick’s children and a couple from Cornwall, England where Rick was born. Just Google Rick Rescorla for more info on this remarkable man.
- Patty and I are in the 2nd row directly behind Susan and her children – right in front of the podium. Why such good seats? When the doors opened to the East Room the first person in was…you guessed it…Patty!
- The young woman sitting between us is Blaire Evans (white top), 20 years old from Houston. Turns out my son’s best friend from college is her father. Blaire is a junior at the University of Texas and actually receives college credits for interning one semester in D.C. The University rents about 25 apartments for the young women to live in a safe and healthy environment. Also Blaire has worked in Senator Ted Cruz’s Texas campaigns and he helped get her placed in the White House. We learned a number of interesting things from Blaire – the administration is working on a soon to be released health plan, that all the Trumps are really tall, the ladies are like 6 feet, speak multiple languages, that the President is quit humorous plus a lot more. She has contributed to predicting debate questions and responses. Sits in on White House workgroups on selected topics. Was involved in the Austrian President’s visit. Talk about getting exposed to some interesting stuff! After graduating she is thinking law school, back to DC to work on the Hill and eventually running for office. WOW to be 20 again and your entire future in front of you!! It was invigorating being around a young person full of energy and optimistic about the future. In fact there were a number of younger staffers around with that shine in their eyes and a spring in their step.
- You have to look hard for the top of Patty’s head of blonde hair.
- Susan Rescorla is frail and normally uses a cane. Notice how attentive the President is to helping steady her.
- Rick’s (and my) Army Vietnam friends were asked to stand and be recognized as were a group of NY Firemen. Boy were they fun!!
- The whole thing was run with precision. The people in uniform are Military Attaches and helped on the WH tour prior to the presentation.
There are number of interesting things but I need to take some time to digest it all and write a story to memorialize it.”
A Side Note from Jeanne Harman
As most of our graduates will remember, in 1965 Pat Payne and Rick Rescorla were both in the Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam. Many times since then Pat has spoken and written about his high esteem and respect for Rescorla. Attached you can read a copy of a talk that Pat gave to the Pelican Bay Rotary Club in Naples where Pat resides. This was given in 2016 at their Memorial Day meeting.
In Pat’s words, “The main focus of the talk was a fellow Lt. named Rick Rescorla….a great American hero. Rick’s life really is an inspiring story and part of it deals with the Ia Drang.”
The book, We Were Soldiers Once … And Young, was written about the battle of Ia Drang; Rick Rescorla is shown on the cover. And a movie, starring Mel Gibson, was made.
This past summer while at the library I ran across the DVD of We Were Soldiers and checked it out. I was awed to think that one of our graduates was actually in this battle and survived! The music, “Mansions of Our Lord”, that is played in the movie is so moving and beautiful. If you are so inclined, I would say get a copy of the movie and watch it. I told Crozier Brown about the movie and he also got a copy and felt pretty much as I did. It is a very intense and moving film. I asked Pat about the accuracy of the film and he said that trying to cram about 5 days of combat into 2 hours prevents the events from being completely accurate. However, Hal Moore, (main character played by Mel Gibson) was very involved in its filming and Hal felt the events were representative. Pat said that after the movie was released, several of the male actors came to their Ia Drang reunion and Pat got to meet them. Pat said all were “good guys and Sam Elliott was special!!”
Betty Luedeker Gatlin: “Love this Jeanne. Have sent to my kids.”
Debbie Holland Ryan (sister to Jeanne): “Wow, what a wonderful story and such an honor to be there. The video made me cry. We had so many heroes that terrible day. Thanks for sharing.”
Tommye Ruth Blair Toler: “Rick Rescorla was truly a great American hero. He saved many, many lives with his final sacrificial act. Thank you Pat Payne for your testimony. It was an honor that you were invited to the White House for the awarding of the medal. Thank you for your service and thanks to all our grads who are veterans.”
Bev Murphy Wells: “What a great story of living history for our country. Rick was born for such a time that was needed for our country. Thanks to Pat for his documentation and sharing. We can never thank our military and veterans enough for all that they give to our country and its people. May we never forget. May God bless Rick, his family, Pat, his family, our military, all veterans and may God continue to bless America!”