Horse News

Sgt. Reckless – The Real War Horse

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A Four-Legged American War Hero

Click Image to Visit the Sgt. Reckless Website

The story of Reckless is not only remarkable – it is unusual.  And once you learn about her, you will see why the Marine Corps not only fell in love with her – but honored her and promoted her every chance they got.  And it wasn’t just the Marines that served with her in the trenches that honored her – her last promotion to Staff Sergeant was by Gen. Randolph McC Pate – the Commandant of the entire Marine Corps.  You can’t get higher than that in the Marines.

Reckless joined the Marines to carry ammunition to the front lines for the 75mm Recoilless Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marines – and she quickly earned the love and respect of all of the Marines that served with her.  Lt. Eric Pedersen paid $250 of his own money to a young Korean boy, Kim Huk Moon, for her.  The only reason Kim sold his beloved horse was so he could buy an artificial leg for his older sister, Chung Soon, who lost her leg in a land mine accident.

Kim’s loss was the Marines’ gain.

It was not only Reckless’ heroics that endeared the Marines to her – it was her incredible antics off of the battlefield.  You will not believe her antics when she was being ignored, or if she was hungry – let’s just say you never wanted to leave your food unattended.  As legendary as she was for her heroics – her appetite became even more legendary.  This horse had a mind of her own – not to mention, being very determined.

Reckless had a voracious appetite.  She would eat anything and everything – but especially scrambled eggs and pancakes in the morning with her morning cup of coffee.  She also loved cake, Hershey bars, candy from the C rations, and Coca Cola – even poker chips, blankets and hats when she was being ignored – or if she was trying to just prove a point.

One of Reckless’ finest hours came during the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March of 1953.  At the time of this battle it was written that, “The savagery of the battle for the so-called Nevada Complex has never been equaled in Marine Corps history.”  This particular battle “was to bring a cannonading and bombing seldom experienced in warfare … twenty-eight tons of bombs and hundreds of the largest shells turned the crest of Vegas into a smoking, death-pocked rubble.”  And Reckless was in the middle of all of it.

Enemy soldiers could see her as she made her way across the deadly “no man’s land” rice paddies and up the steep 45-degree mountain trails that led to the firing sites.  “It’s difficult to describe the elation and the boost in morale that little white-faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy bringing vitally needed ammunition up the mountain,” Sgt. Maj. James E. Bobbitt recalled.

During this five-day battle, on one day alone she made 51 trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites, 95% of the time by herself.  She carried 386 rounds of ammunition (over 9,000 pounds – almost FIVE TONS! — of ammunition), walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains with enemy fire coming in at the rate of 500 rounds per minute.  And as she so often did, she would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain to safety, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns.  She also provided a shield for several Marines who were trapped trying to make their way up to the front line.  Wounded twice, she didn’t let that stop or slow her down.

What she did in this battle not only earned her the respect of all that served with her, but it got her promoted to Sergeant.  Her heroics defined the word “Marine.”  She was BELOVED by the Marines.  They took care of her better than they took care of themselves – throwing their flak jackets over her to protect her when incoming was heavy, risking their own safety.

Her Military Decorations include two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, all of which she wore proudly on her red and gold blanket, along with a French Fourragere that the 5th Marines earned in WW1.

There has never been a horse like Reckless, and her story needs to be honored.

9 replies »

  1. Sad but true, Terri. It doesn’t look like wars will ever end but humans are supposed to be civilized.


  2. A lovely inspirational piece on this fine Sunday morning!
    A reminder to all that horses are more than just livestock – horses served and continue to serve mankind in many different ways throughout history. How we let greedy ignorants carry on their disrespect for our equines is mind boggling and a sad reminder of the state of the times we live in.

    An interesting footnote to Reckless after her service on the front was completed. It was decided that Reckless would “marry” a famous thoroughbred and their offspring would no doubt go on to win the Kentucky Derby – further putting Reckless and the Marine Corp into the limelight. The marriage was consumated and Reckless continued to be the queen of the stable.

    During this time the base commander was a supporter of the rodeo and the base received “bucking horses” for the soldiers to practise on. One such bucking horse arrived injured, requiring stitches. When he was turned out in the paddock with the other horses – the soldiers gathered round to watch the “Queen” Reckless put him in his place. They soon discovered that the bucking horse was a stallion and that Reckless fell in love. By the time they got Reckless out of the Paddock “Cupid had shot all his arrows.”

    Apparently the “arranged marriage” failed – but none of the higher ups did due diigence after 28 days – all was forgotten and then – a vetrinary visit pronounced the great news that Reckless was in foal (it should be noted that none of the higher ups knew of Recklesses’ affair with the common bucking horse) Much to do was made about Recklesses’ pregnancy to much fanfare and publicity. Reckless gave birth (a month overdue!) When the soldier was asked the name of the foals famous Kentucky Derby Daddy by the press, the soldier replied; “Well, sir,he ain’t very famous, but he’s one of our best bareback broncs. You know a bucking horse.”

    So after months of PR strategy around Reckless and her famous husband – a campaign to further propel Reckless and the Marines further into the spotlight – A few words from this soldier “he had managed to dishonour the reputation of a war heroine and destroy a public relations campaign for the marines.”

    Reckless went on to fall in love two more times. None of these offspring were Kentucky Derby winners.

    Reckless should never be forgotten – I wonder who they will get to play the starring role of Reckless? Surely Hollywood is knocking on the door of this inspiring, courageous story of a brave little mare serving America so well.

    Happy Sunday to you all.

    Joanne Clay


  3. Thank you RT another fabulous Sunday Morning Inspiration, the Little Filly with the heart of a true war hero Yes, a movie honoring her , there are many Sargent Reckless stories out there that were never told maybe not quite as heroic but almost as amazing , she represents the Magnificence of horses, all horses, they have enriched our lives with their Beauty and their many attributes…. I would be willing to bet that each and every one of us has a story of their very own to warm your soul…. Would nt it be awesome to hear them all !!!!!


  4. For all our veterans: living, passed, animal or human……..thank you for your service.

    Thank you isn’t enough, but it is a start.


  5. RIGHT ON, Denise! We all owe a huge debt to those who have served our Country, past and present. Thank you is not enough. It is our solemn responsibility to see to it that Freedom REMAINS alive and well in America.


  6. typo corrected:
    in your honor,
    today we pray,
    that the need for
    more horses of war
    will go away☺♥☻


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