Debate Magazine

A Hero to Remember: Sgt. Reckless

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

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While watching the American Heroes Channel, we came upon a documentary about Sergeant Reckless, a horse for the United States Marine Corp that served in the Korean War. I’m surprised I’d never heard of her before and thought I’d share the story here.

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From Wikipedia:

Sergeant Reckless, a horse that held official rank in the United States military, was a mare of Mongolian horse breeding. Out of a race horse dam, she was purchased in October 1952 for $250 from a Korean stableboy at the Seoul racetrack who needed money to buy an artificial leg for his sister. Reckless was bought by members of the United States Marine Corps and trained to be a pack horse for the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Anti-Tank Company, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. She quickly became a unit mascot and was allowed to roam freely through camp, entering the marines’ tents, where she would sleep on cold nights, and was known for her willingness to eat nearly anything, including scrambled eggs, beer, coca-cola and, once, about $30 worth of poker chips.

She served in numerous combat actions during the Korean War, carrying supplies and ammunition, and was also used to evacuate wounded. Learning each supply route after only a couple of trips, she often traveled to deliver supplies to the troops on her own, without benefit of a handler. The highlight of her nine-month military career came in late March 1953 during fighting around Vegas Hill when, in a single day, she made 51 solo trips to resupply multiple front line units. She was wounded in combat twice, given the battlefield rank of corporal in 1953, and then a battlefield promotion to sergeant in 1954, several months after the war ended. She also became the first horse in the Marine Corps known to have participated in an amphibious landing, and following the war was awarded two Purple Hearts, a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and several other military honors.

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Reckless’s baptism under fire came at a place called Hedy’s Crotch, near the villages of Changdan and Kwakchan. Though loaded down with six recoilless rifle shells, she initially “went straight up” and all four feet left the ground the first time the recoilless rifle was fired. When she landed she started shaking, but Coleman, her handler, calmed her down. The second time the gun fired she merely snorted, and by the end of the mission that day appeared calm and was seen trying to eat a discarded helmet liner. She even appeared to take an interest in the operation of the weapon. When learning a new delivery route, Reckless would only need someone to lead her a few times. Afterwards she would make the trips on her own.”

To learn more about Sgt. Reckless (and buy a book about her if you so desire), go here.

“She wasn’t a horse — she was a Marine!”

DCG


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