Camp Pendleton erected a bronze statue in honor of war horse Sgt. Reckless, and no horse deserves it more. The little mixed breed horse known as Reckless transported ammunition and carried wounded Marines to safety under enemy fire during the Korean War, and on Wednesday, the 64th anniversary of Reckless joining the Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton unveiled a large bronze statue in her memory.
The statue was created by Jocelyn Russell, and is similar to the one at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia that was unveiled in July 2013.
Staff Sgt. Reckless was purchased at a race track in Seoul during the war for $250, and turned out to be arguably the greatest purchase the Marine Corps ever made. She served with the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Anti-Tank Company, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and was taught to pick her way through barbed wire, lay down to avoid incoming enemy fire and deliver huge packs of ammunition during battle, without a soldier to guide her.
According to Robin Hutton, the author of a book on Sgt. Reckless, one of her finest hours came during the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March 1953. The mare made 51 trips to the front lines in a single day, carrying more than 9,000 pounds of ammunition over 35 miles of terrain.
But apparently Reckless also knew how to have a good time, and enjoyed eating and drinking alongside the rest of the Marines. Her favorites included scrambled eggs, candy bars, and beer.
For her service Sgt. Reckless was awarded two Purple Hearts, a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation with a bronze star, the National Defense Service Medal, a Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Korea Medal, a Navy Unit Commendation, a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, and the Dickin Medal.
When she died in 1968, she became the first and only horse to be buried with full military honors at the base's Stepp Stables, and remains the only animal to ever be awarded an official rank in the Marine Corps.
According to the Orange County Register, during the unveiling ceremony, Lt. Col. Rafael Candelario, executive officer of the 5th Marine Regiment, accepted the Korean War Veteran Medal posthumously for Reckless.
"This is an important legacy of the Regiment," he said.
"We have all types of heroes. Reckless is more than a horse. She contributed to the success and livelihood of Marines and sailors. She displayed courage in the face of extreme danger, something any Marine can emulate."
All images via Orange County Register.
This post was originally published on November 11, 2016. We love this story and wanted to resurrect it from our archives because we felt it was patriotic and uplifting. Hope you enjoy!
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