Sparklers and fireworks. Cookouts and pool parties. Fun times with friends and family over a long Fourth of July holiday weekend.
As the actual Fourth of July – Monday – draws closer and the fun weekend we all had draws to a close, take a moment to reflect on our freedom. What it took to create our freedom. What it took to keep us free. This weekend, we think of the founding fathers and those who have defended our country both here and abroad. These patriots deserve our praise and thanks.
Once in while you come across a story that just has to be retold. A story that is surprising that it isn’t well known. This is the story of a lesser-known four-legged hero. This is the story of Sergeant Reckless.
October 26, 1952 at a racetrack in Seoul, South Korea, a young Korean boy, Kim Huk Moon, sold his small Mongolian-bred filly to the United States Marines. His name for the 5 year old, 14.1 hands high, 900 pound, sorrel mare was Flame. She was his pride and joy, but he needed money. His sister, Chung Soon, needed an artificial leg. She lost hers in a land mine accident.
The 75mm Recoilless Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marines were in need of a way to transport ammunition to the front lines. They jumped at the chance to buy the sturdy little mare and purchased her from Kim for $250.
It was the best investment they could have made.
Flame was renamed Reckless – the name of the recoilless rifle the platoon used. But the little red mare was anything but reckless. She was smart, courageous, and the pride of the Marines. The platoon taught her to step over communication lines, to get down when there was incoming fire, and to ignore gunfire and other frightening war sounds.
If she hadn’t proved herself a hero already, she was matchless is the Battle of Outpost Vegas. March 1953, Reckless was right in the middle of one of the roughest battles in Marine Corps history. Reckless picked her way through an alien landscape, rice paddies and mountain trails scarred and blown apart by heavy artillery fire and 28 tons of bombs.
Over the course of the five-day battle, Reckless carried 386 rounds of ammunition weighing in total over 9,000 pounds. On a single day, she made 51 trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites. Most of these trips she made alone. She walked over 35 miles through enemy fire coming in at 500 rounds per minute. During one of these trips, she shielded four Marines who were trapped and trying to move up to the front lines. Even after being wounded twice, Reckless kept going.
To honor her heroism at this battle, the Marines promoted the red filly to Sergeant. She received many military decorations which she wore with her rank and name on a red and gold blanket.
The Marines loved Reckless. They shared their flak jackets to protect her and their food to feed and entertain her. The mare ate everything. Her favorites were scrambled eggs, Hershey bars, and candy. She was one of the boys and even enjoyed the occasional beer with her Marines.
She was brought to Camp Pendleton after the war where she lived out the rest of her years. She was a favorite at Camp Pendleton and even had three foals over the years.
In 1959, Reckless was promoted again to the rank of Staff Sergeant. The promotion was presided over by the Commandant of the entire Marine Corp, a 19-gun salute, and a parade of 1700 troops including men she fought alongside in the 5th Marines. The following year she was retired.
The Marines continued to care for her at Camp Pendleton until her death May 13, 1968. She was buried with full military honors.
SSgt. Reckless rests at Camp Pendleton. There is a Memorial Marker Stone at the gate to the Stepp Stables, but is easily missed unless one knows it’s there. The grave itself is not marked. There are efforts underway to gather interest and fundraise for a proper memorial marker and a statue in tribute of this great American hero.
Stories like the one of Reckless are a shining example of what is possible when a horse bonds with those who care and love him or her. Reckless is truly an exceptional horse, exhibiting bravery in the face of danger, and serving the Marines and the United States. For that we owe this great equine hero our thanks.
If you would like to read more about Reckless, please visit the official website (http://www.sgtreckless.com).
Join her fan club on Facebook as well!