Sunday, August 18, 2013

War Horse in Korea--SGT Reckless, A War Hero

With the movie War Horse soon to be released, this would be a good time to highlight a real horse who served heroically in a war. Life Magazine once published a list of the top 100 American heroes and Sgt. Reckless, a mare who served with the US Marines in Korea was listed along with Washington, Jefferson, etc. Reckless' sire was from Korea and her mother from Japan.  Although some sources claimed that she was a Mongolian pony, which breed is related to the Icelandic horse. And my Dad was also a Marine who served at the time of the Korean War.

The background to the story:

Like Icelandics, Reckless had a huge appetite:
"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."

At the end of the war, the Marines brought Reckless back to the US where she was promoted to Sgt. and lived in retirement. A private was assigned to take care of her. This sometimes led to problems since she outranked her caretaker:
"Because she was a war horse from Korea, and carried ammo across no mans land to the troops on the front line, when she returned to the States there were written orders that nothing would ever be placed on her back other than her blankets, I remember asking how I was to exercise her if I could not get on her; that's when I learned that I was to run along side until she got tired and wanted to go back to the stall. Lucky for me she knew the word oats and I could usually get her to cut her runs short. I remember that when she retired as a S/Sgt, I was not permitted to lead her in the parade because she out-ranked me and I could not
give her orders, so they found a ranking NCO for that duty."

And in this video, Gerry Lucasik wrote a song celebrating Reckless.

The Marine Corp dedicated a statue to the little mare named Reckless  at a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Virginia, on Friday, July 26.  The statue was the work of Jocelyn Russell.  It depicts the mare struggling uphill carrying a pack of ammunition and contains a lock of her tail in the base of the statue.  The idea for the monument came from Robin Hutton, president of Angels Without Wings, Inc., after she read about the horse's heroics.

You can see the statue in the following video:

"Retired Marine Sgt. Harold Wadley, who served side-by-side with Reckless in the Korean War, spoke to “On the Radar” at the installation ceremony of the new Staff Sgt. Reckless statue and told of the horse’s unusual valor in braving enemy fire to bring reinforcement ammunition to her platoon on the front lines.
The memory that stayed with me forever was the image of her when the flare lights were … coming in, and then she's struggling up the ridge,' Wadley recalled. 'And she's in and out of view with the flare light and a lot of smoke...and here comes this little mare just like a shadow and she's heavily loaded with, you know, 75 millimeter rounds.'”

"...Sgt. Wadley said he knew she was different from other horses the first time he saw her.
'The recoilless rifle crew had her in a little wagon hooked to a trailer behind the Jeep, pulling her behind the Jeep,' he said. 'There weren’t any sideboards on it or anything else; she was right in the Jeep like she had been born there. They had trained her to do that. Most horses wouldn’t do that.'”


What an amazing story of a horse bonding with her herd--in this case the herd was the US Marines.

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