Veteran’s Day: Sgt. Reckless – the Real War Horse

Information supplied by and

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.

13 comments on “Veteran’s Day: Sgt. Reckless – the Real War Horse

  1. She had a fine retirement, far better than so many other animals who served our country. She earned it. So yes, we need to honor this and all American war heros on Veterans Day. God bless her company who so loved her. The BLM should be checked when they treat our own horses like vermin and send them off to slaughter. It’s the Great American betrayal. Any horse could be Reckless..Her memory is proof! God bless this wonderful horse..


    • Terri, What a profound observation! I could not agree with you more! God bless all of our innocent equines!! AND, to of the courageous & devoted humans who speak for those who cannot speak for themselves….. Do Not Ever Give Up! You Are Making A Difference!!!!!


  2. On this day Armistice day. In Remembrance of the thousands of American Horses and Mules who were shipped over the atlantic and served in WW1. God bless them all.


  3. Some of those horses that BLM seeks to destroy are descendants of cavalry horses—our own “war horses”– here’s another show about the thousands of horses the Brooke Foundation (UK) returned to England after WW1. “Sacrifice of horses in war recognised for Remembrance Sunday”

    Just because we no longer use “horses and bayonets” in war, doesn’t diminsh the glory of those who did. Freedom and justice for our nation’s betrayed horses…our 4 legged veterans.


  4. So when do we get our Animals In War Memorial on the Mall in D.C.? In so many instances, our troops couldn’t have made it without the animals “who had no choice”, although I believe Sgt. Reckless DID make a conscious choice. She chose to “serve and protect” those she had come to know and love.


  5. Thank you, R.T., for honoring Sgt. Reckless on Veteran’s Day. Thank you, Robin Hutton, for creating a website, a fan club, a memorial monument, a book, and a screenplay (yet to be produced) in tribute to this valiant horse. Thank you to everyone who played a part in helping Sgt. Reckless fulfill her appointed mission in life and enjoy her well-deserved retirement in peace. And, finally, thank you to everyone else who is ensuring that her place in history is secured. May her deeds teach the world of the value of living for others, and not just for oneself.

    I agree with all the beautiful sentiments in the above comments, which so perfectly express how I feel both about this faithful war horse and about all heroes who fight for what is right and true, who love all their fellow beings, and who consider all life sacred.

    The first verse of a loved hymn* comes to mind when I think of Sgt. Reckless:

    Pilgrim on earth, home and heaven are within thee,
    Heir of the ages and child of the day.
    Cared for, watched over, beloved and protected,
    Walk thou with courage each step of the way.

    * The words are adapted from a church song written in the 1860s by someone with the initials P.M. — possibly English clergyman Peter Maurice.


  6. The General,s mount: A poem on General Forrest,s horse.

    This poem is long so I hope I don,t miss a line. Enjoy it on this day we honor ALL, who have fought ~ both alive and dead ~ in our wars.

    The BLOOD from deep inside began to color flecks of foam about the bit. And pink the moisture in his heavy breath. And yet the pain, sharp and searing hot, appeared to make no difference in his stride. For this great chestnut gelding, dark with sweat, was all a war horse, in his pace and in his sinew, bone and blood….and in his heart. The towering General, light reined horseman, light in the saddle too-felt the shot that hit the horse beneath him. There is some indescribable communion between a man and a horse, who have shared the roughest roads, the longest hours, the hardest of battles, a singleness of spirit, faith unflagging. The General felt the pain as if the geldings wound was in himself, it tightened muscles in his jaws and throat. And then the second shot struck hard the chestnuts side, and then the third. stunning. staggering. His powerful and easy stride became a labored lunge. Steadied only by the General,s balanced weight and sure hand. The war horse gathered-with every ounce of courage in his heart-to carry on, to fight the mission threw. calmly. The General reined him in, and stepping down he loosed the girth and lightly slipped the saddle to the ground. The General,s young leiutenent, aide de camp-his son-reined up, dismounted, took the General,s horse and gave his own. Scarscly a word passed, no orders given-none had to be-as the General with one backward glance rode on. And Willie led the wounded war horse from the field and to the rear. Away from powder smoke and battle strain, in the chill of early March, into the quieter countryside of Tennessee, to the horse holders beyond the second hill. And in the cutting chill the war horse ached. Ached under his drying sweat and drying blood. A once aleart, clearheaded “General,s mount” stunned and trembling from the shock and pain. Jaded, limping to the holders in the rear. No bugles and no drumbeats here, only fading sounds across the field. The holders slipped the bridle from his lowered head, wiped the sweat marks from his cheeks and neck. Bathed the blood-red foam from mouth and nostrils, sponged the wounds, applied the stinging ointment. They washed his knees, and hocks, and pasterns. ” It,s Roderick, the General,s mount”. Bring the water bucket to him, “Roderick” the General,s mount trained in his masters ways. Trained to jump a fence, a wall, or gulley, to back and wheel, to follow where the General went, to follow closely, ready for a instant need, and he followed him from training, but he followed, too from Love. The stinging ointment touched a spark of feeling, the water gave refreshment to his spirit, he raised his head a little, cocked an ear and listened… the distance there was shooting and it echoed in the hills. The General always rode to the shooting. He turned to face the sound. His ears were up and pointing. His head was clearing now, he moved a little towards the sound. The holders started to him, shouting “WHOA”, he moved a little faster, stiff and aching toward the shooting, “WHOA” Head im, He broke into a trot. To a labored painful gallop to the General. The gallop warmed his blood, loosed stiff and aching muscles. Ahead, a fence, he cleared it with a mighty surge of effort. He was warm and he was running, a painful awkward stride, but running hard to the General. The next fence-up and over-he almost lost his footing, but he could smell the powder now. The General smelled of powder. Now he could see the men and horses, nervous horses, ready for the charge. Now he could see the General. One last fence between him and the field, he cleared it as the bugles blasted “CHARGE” he was racing with the shouting horsesmen now. He was straining hard to reach the General,s side, five good strides ahead, Bleeding, straining hard, three good strides……when the killing bullet hit him in the chest. The keen ear of the General caught the sound, inaudable against the din. Half a plaintive nicker, half a choking scream, like the scream of horses “bad hit” in the field. Amid the shouting and the shrieking and the fire the General heard it. He stiffened, half turning in his saddle. And there behind him in the charge, stumbling, plunging, dying, his War Horse-on his feet but dying in the charge. The feared and fearless battle-hardened General spurred ahead-to fight more awesome battles for his cause. But the man-the horseman-underneath his honored uniform-Bedford Forrest-died a little there on the field that day near Spring Hill, March the fifth, 1863.


  7. Thank you to all of our war horses and war veterans. I commend all of you and your service to God and the freedom of our country. I am so grateful to all of those that have gone onto eternity. We must never forget the sacrifice of our beloved horses, men and women who have served our country proud all across the world. This was a great story. Thank you veterans. Human or animal, we are so proud of your service and I shall never forget to honor you. God knows where you are. Put your trust in God always. My prayer is for the human race to love another, be kind to one another and be gracious to each other. Peace and Blessings to all of you. God loves all of you.
    We must put our trust in God’s grace. Pray for our animals and our humans who need to be protected from the wrath of evil forces. Be strong and courageous.
    Saving our horses and saving the human race from destruction. We will prevail and may the force of the horse be with all of us.
    God Bless our Veterans. Dad and Mom I miss you and sending my love to heaven to you, thank you for your service. Thank you my brothers for your service in the Army, Navy and Air Force. To all of my special veterans bless you and remember you are so wonderful and God loves you dearly. He will not let you fail ever.


  8. Good Day folks my internet was down over the weekend… I wanted to post this for the 11th however that was not to be…lol! My co-writer Sharon Anderson and myself wrote this song and produced this video about the the little Sgt.and her service to the Marines.

    Please have a listen and enjoy. I know it’s not the 11th but I think this sort of thing is something that reminds us all of the service animals did and continue to do unselfishly for us..


  9. It’s at times like this that you realize that the words “Thank You” just aren’t worthy enough to express the gratitude so justly deserved.

    I’m a firm believer in the Spirit World and today while watching the videos I felt Reckless’ spirit, I touched her mane and she nuzzled my neck. For a moment we were as one. I feel honored.

    To all creations who have suffered to make my life richer and safer…God Bless You All!


  10. My husband a 20 year Army Veteran brought this to my attention especially because I have showed horses since the age of 5. Being an only child, my horses were my best friend. Tears came to me as my husband read the information. The passion and fearless disposition is beyond words! I know my horses compete with the heart! My mares love their beer, cotton candy and all snacks so I feel honored to know now of her existence!!! I can’t begin to imagine how the soldiers loved her and admired her courage. Fearless, a perfect name. She belongs with the 2 star Generals! Thank God she touched the life of all soldiers that served with Fearless!


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