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A Brave Marine - Sergeant Reckless
 By mosquito   •   11th Jul 2012   •   7,120 views   •   15 comments
This isn’t the story of just any marine. Sergeant Reckless was unique. First of all, I think I’m safe in saying she was the first female marine ever, certainly the first to be promoted to Sergeant. She was like her comrades in many ways – She liked a good breakfast of scrambled eggs and coffee, and to finish off the day with a beer with her buddies. She was fearless in battle, and earned two Purple Hearts. But what made her special? Well, Sergeant Reckless was a pony!

Reckless was born – probably in the late 1940s – and grew up as a little chestnut pony, named Ah Chin Hai (Korean for ‘flower in the morning’). She belonged to a young farmer boy named Kim. When the Korean War started in 1950, times became pretty tough for her poor farming family, and sadly Kim’s little sister lost her leg after stepping on a land mine. Kim started taking Ah Chin Hoi to the Seoul racetrack to race her and try and raise money for an artificial leg for his sister.

Reckless was full of character, and she was spotted by Lieutenant Eric Pedersen, who was looking for fast, brave ponies to carry artillery for his troops. He offered Kim $250 from his own pocket to buy the little mare – a huge sum of money to Kim, and Ah Chin Hai became Reckless.

Reckless in Korea
Reckless in Korea

Reckless quickly became pretty well known among the Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marines. She certainly had character, and it wasn’t long before the rest of the marines learned not to leave their sandwich lying around – Reckless had quite an appetite and would give almost anything a try! She would join the troops at breakfast, not for oats – or even oatmeal – but for scrambled eggs and pancakes and bracing cup of military coffee, and finish the day hanging out with the soldiers and having a beer. A memo outlining preparations for her arrival back in America described what she liked best:

During the extreme heat of Korea, when potable water was scarce or non-existent, Reckless came to know and like certain liquids other than water. She is fond of coca cola and milk. Under the stress of battle she has been known to drink beer.

But Reckless was more than just a camp character – she had a job to do, and she took it seriously. The intelligence that lay behind her charisma made her famous on the battlefield. It didn’t matter what task she was set; she figured it out quickly, and completed her assignments with determination and bravery. She carried heavy rifle artillery to the front lines, she brought wounded soldiers back, she carried messages and supplies, and she never hesitated or refused her jobs. She learned to step over barbed wire, scramble into foxholes (where her fellow soldiers would wrap her in their own flak jackets to protect her), and to crouch down and crawl to avoid being spotted.

Reckless wasn’t just any war horse though, and her bravery and dedication saved many lives. On March 26, 1953, an infantry unit was guarding Outpost Vegas, a small post about a mile from the front line where South Korean, American, and other forces were sparring with a strong Chinese regiment. Harold Wadley was one of the Marines stationed there, and he set off back to retrieve some supplies. As he left, the Chinese launched a powerful assault. Wadley and some fellow soldiers, now wounded, scrambled back to the outpost. Wadley looked back and what did he see?

Reckless in Korea
Reckless in Korea

Reckless climbing up a steep ridge to the outpost – in full view of the enemy and without anyone riding or leading her – loaded with ammo and supplies. The attack continued into the night. All night long Reckless went back and forth, bringing supplies form a series of foxholes and camps further back, and returning with injured soldiers from the outpost. She made over 50 round trips, carried over 9000 pounds of ammunition, and covered over 35 miles. She was hit and wounded twice, but never stopped.

Wadley describes Reckless that night:

Some of the gun crew were wounded, so they didn’t have an extra Marine. She made that trip all night long by herself. They would tie a wounded Marine on her and turn her around and she’d head down that ridge with all this artillery and mortar coming in. The guys down there would unload the wounded off her and tie gun ammo on her and she would turn around right on her own and head right back up. She knew exactly what her job was. There’s not another horse in war history that could even touch that mare!

After the battle at Outpost Vegas, Reckless still had work to do. Once her wounds were healed, and even after the truce was signed in July 1953, Reckless worked to rebuild South Korea, stringing communication wire and carrying supplies. After the Marines had gone home, Reckless was left behind. A series of articles in the New York Post by her fellow soldiers started a campaign to bring her home, and he was finally given permission to come to America, arriving at Camp Pendleton, California, in 1954. She was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant, awarded two purple hearts, and a Presidential Citation – she even travelled in a hotel elevator to receive her awards!

Reckless at Camp Pendleton
Reckless at Camp Pendleton

During her retirement at Camp Pendleton, it was decreed that Reckless should never carry anything heavier than a blanket again. If she went out for a jog, the Marine assigned to accompany her had to run alongside! She had four babies, and although one died young, three survived – Dauntless, Fearless, and the unfortunately named Chesty.

Reckless Memorial
Reckless Memorial

Reckless passed away in 1968, probably around twenty years old, when she was put down after complications from an injury and pain from arthritis. She’s buried at Camp Pendleton, and there’s small monument to her there. Even after she died, the efforts to honor Reckless continue. In 1990, she was included in Life Magazine’s Americas’ 100 Greatest Heroes, and there is a campaign underway for a bronze statue of Reckless to be placed at Arlington cemetery. There are plans for a movie, and Reckless even has her own facebook fan club:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/sgtreckless/

and her own website:

http://www.sgtreckless.com

So visit those if you want to learn more, talk to people who knew Reckless and her babies, and join the campaign for a statue for Sergeant Reckless!
A Brave Marine - Sergeant Reckless
A Brave Marine - Sergeant Reckless
A Brave Marine - Sergeant Reckless
A Brave Marine - Sergeant Reckless
Horse News More PB Articles About:  Military,
Horse News More In This Category:  Equine History and Culture      Horse News More From This Author:  mosquito
Valkyrie  MOD 
This is a very interesting story :D a true war horse indeed!
  Jul 11, 2012  •  6,718 views
 
OklahomaBlessing  
A very cool storie
  Jul 12, 2012  •  6,722 views
 
OklahomaBlessing  
* story ( sorry i did not spell it right lol)
  Jul 12, 2012  •  6,721 views
 
Dusty Canyon  
Reckless is officially my new hero! :D What an amazing pony!
  Jul 12, 2012  •  6,878 views
 
Sapphire Flames  
Wow.....that was a great article! Very interesting to read! Thanks for writing it. :)
  Jul 12, 2012  •  6,717 views
 
Emmurr  
What an incredible little horse! Thank you so much for sharing, I'm sure anyone who reads this will find a place in their heart to remember and honour her.
  Jul 13, 2012  •  6,746 views
 
Happy Stables  MOD 
What a great article! Reckless is a one of a kind horse. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. : )
  Jul 13, 2012  •  6,774 views
 
My Paper Heart  
That is astonishing, and incredible! Great article, very well written. =)
  Jul 13, 2012  •  6,714 views
 
Double Spur Ranch  
Very awesome story!
  Jul 14, 2012  •  6,732 views
 
Ghost  
Great story! Hope to hear more about Reckless, maybe they will make a movie about her!
  Jul 14, 2012  •  7,012 views
 
Ghost  
And I do think it is interesting that, otherwise some people, or some generations would have little to no knowledge of the Korean War, unless there was a horse associated with it, look at movies in general..sometimes it's the only way we learn about history, events etc.
  Jul 14, 2012  •  7,012 views
 
Let It Ride  
Amazing! I'm going to show this to all the people who say that horses are just dumb animals...
  Jul 15, 2012  •  6,741 views
 
Oakridge  
I love this mare's story..so cool!
  Jul 15, 2012  •  6,839 views
 
Cowzers  
Amazing story of a brave horse. Thank you for this !
  Jul 21, 2012  •  7,140 views
 
Bright Horizon  
Awesome pony!
  Aug 5, 2012  •  6,756 views
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