Camp Pendleton unveils Staff Sgt Reckless monument

Camp Pendleton unveils Staff Sgt Reckless monument Admin |

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Camp Pendleton hosts a ceremony unveiling a statue dedicated to Staff Sgt. Reckless, the famous Korean War pack horse, at the Pacific Views Event Center, Oct. 26, 2016.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations West – Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, as well as many Marines who served in the Korean War with Reckless, attended the ceremony.

“I never expected to see a horse in the middle of the chaos in Korea,” said Harold Wadley, a Korean War veteran who served with Reckless. “Reckless supplied about 9-thousand pounds of ammo while receiving heavy artillery fire.”

Reckless’ finest hours came at the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March of 1953, where she made 51 solo trips in a single day, transporting 386 recoilless rifle rounds to the front lines. As Reckless took care of the Marines, the Marines took care of her, shielding the war horse with their flak jackets to protect her from heavy enemy fire.

“She was a herd animal and the Marines became her herd,” said Jocelyn Russell, sculpture of the Staff Sgt Reckless monument. “For her to be turned loose and to walk across mine fields and heavy enemy fire all on her own I learned a lot about her loyalty to the Marines.”

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, posthumously, was awarded the Dickin Medal.

After serving in the Korean War, Reckless’ final duty station was Camp Pendleton where she stayed until her death in 1968. Reckless was buried with full military honors.

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


I was stationed at Camp Pendleton with the 5th Marines at Camp Margarita 1957, 58 59. I believe Reckless was a Sgt. at the time. When she was promoted to Staff/Sgt we had a parade for her, she gave birth to a colt they named Dauntless, we had a parade to celebrate the occasion. I looked at that horses rear end for miles on forced marches. Did I enjoy those moments? at the time heck no. But now that I look back on those times and remembering some of the comments of those Marines that served with her, she deserves her place in the history of the Corps.

Everett Davis,

Peter, Thanks for your service. That in itself gives your more than the right to have your own opinion. I am the wife of a marine and an equine veterinarian and please know that I am not a bleeding heart. (Who could be, married to a marine?) I agree that horses don’t have human intellect to appreciate medals. These awards and commendations are more about the soldiers that Reckless helped. Keep in mind, the horse’s job was to be a pack animal. She was much more than that to the soldiers around her. A horse with the capacity to do what she did, was exceptional. That environment is nearly as tough for her as for the soldiers but for different reasons. I don’t believe that horses have the capacity for human emotion and the dread of possible death but that is not a situation that many normal horses can tolerate. I would call your attention to the added benefit of the horse’s presence, an emotional pack animal. The care if this animal was a diversion from the soldiers’ daily, terrible routine and a subtle link to home. Her returns were a high point in the days for some of these men, perhaps the only “victory”of the day. I can tell you that horses are fine at this because I work with a herd of therapy horses that is used under a grant from the VA for PTSD patients. It is amazing. These programs are all over the country and I hope this message may help some to consider attending! No offense, just some thoughts.

Tanya Hatchett, DVM,

I grew up in the Marine Corps. My father and his brother joined the Marines in 1937 and my dad served until he retired in 1967. Dad served with Chesty Puller before the war and later in Korea. While they were in Korea my mother, brother and I were stationed in Hawaii. In Korea, Chesty had a dog. His name was Mike. He was an Irish Setter and when they came home he brought the dog with him. They, of course stopped in Hawaii before returning to the mainland. My father stayed in Hawaii. At that time, Hawaii was not yet a state and Chesty was told he would have to leave the dog in Hawaii for a period of time before the dog would be allowed to go to the mainland. Chesty did not like the idea of having the dog quarantined. At dinner one night he asked me, I was just a little fellow at the time, if I had a dog? I said I didn’t own one. He said that every boy should have a dog so he gave Mike to me since he couldn’t take him back to the states and he didn’t want him quarantined. All of this to say that Mike was a Marine too. He loved Marines and every chance he got he would run off and find some Marines. We knew that when he would run off he would be easy to find. All we had to do was look for a group of Marines and there he would be. We still have pictures of Mike marching in parades alongside the Marines and with any group of Marines he could find. He knew he was a Marine and he stayed a Marine until he passed away at a ripe old age. Later on when my brother and I were old enough we also joined the Marines. We both served in Vietnam. All of us had such fond memories of our time in the Corps and lots of sea stories to sit around talking about, but none better than watching Mike run around with his fellow Marines. I’m sure Reckless was just as much a Marine as Mike was. Animals tend to sense these things you know.

Bill T,

PLEASE BRING BACK GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired, DDICK, SHORT ROUNDS, QUOTES, and All the GOOD Stories!!!!!

Robert T.,

Your wrong. She was just as much a Marine as anything. I didn’t hear about people even being able to do what she did.

Patrick McBride,

God bless all those Marine animals who served and died alongside our Marines in combat. And my thanks to all those Marines who commented here, which was almost all of you, recognizing the bravery of those creatures whose total commitment was to save the lives of their fellow Marines. If there’s a Heaven, I hope to see them there.,

buzz alpert, E-5 1960-66,

Regarding your comment on medals/awards, etc. for animals please consider that the men Reckless served with wanted her recognized for the brave and lifesaving work she did for them in combat. Their way was to see that she was rewarded with medals and also that she was well cared for and fed and comfortably housed upon her return to Pendleton. Nothing wrong with any of that and if Reckless helped you survive you too might feel the same way. There is another side to the story and no one is right or wrong, but each Marine is entitled to his/her opinion. Sometimes you have to take a slice of the pizza to know what it tastes like and I figure the jarheads who she helped felt a lot better stepping up to the plate to say, ‘Thanks, Reckless.’ I bet the awards to that great horse, Reckless made them feel better and that’s worth something. There are very few things in life like to the devotion, loyalty and love of one of God’s creatures like a horse, a dog, etc. Mr. Morse and Mr. Perez-Donnelly you ought to get close to an animal and experience that kind of companionship. If you locked in girlfriend and your dog in a car trunk and came back a half hour later who do you think would be glad to see you? A joke of course, but there is more to it than meets the eye. If you never shared your life with a creature as described above you’ve missed something more than special.

buzz alpert, E-5 1960-66,

during the civil war and later wars, some american servicemen cried whenever a faihfull and brave horse or k-9 died in battle or died of disease. in both ww1 and ww2, military k-9 dogs were awarded rank and medals for their loyal and brave service for saving the lives of many of our troops. i think it’s a great tribute to the pack horses of all wars. thanks to the efforts of all those who made this happen. well done!

mike kelley, msgt, ret. vietnam vet,

Nov 27. 2016 As a PFC I was assigned duties at the Base Stables MCB CamPen. My OIC was LtCol A. C. Bowen, Had the great pleasure of taking care of SSgt Reckless. So glad to see a statue of SSgt Reckless, a well deserved tribute to a devoted Marine. Worked with a LCpl Peck . Prior to assignment to the stables my boss was Sgt C. M. Chandler. Retired CWO-2 R. E. McNeal.

Raymond E. McNeal,

I’m an old cowboy and a Marine. I have no problem with a good horse that did what was asked of it when it counted being recognized. Those Marines that received the ammo appreciated it. Reckless did good and it’s no big deal. Pissing contest end up with all getting some on them. My hat’s off to her.

Dave G, B/1/9,

Well said Frank Walker.

Bill Morenz,

For P. Morse and Peter Perez-Donnelly: You two need to fall back and adjust your brain housing groups. What about our Marine Corps mascot at 8th and I? What about al those dogs and other animals that Mairnes have adopted that helped them deal with what they were facing? Both of you need to read “Always Faithful” about the Marine war dogs of WWII and go to the internet and read about the war dogs serving with and saving Marine lives in Iraq and Afganistan. All of those are as much Marines as you two claim to be. By the way I’m a retired MUSTANG: SSgt (RVN 67-68), CWO3, Capt.

Frank Walker,

To P. Morse and Peter Perez-Donnelly, tell any Marine canine handler that animals don’t deserve medals and you’ll get knocked on your butt. (P.S. : There are many monuments to smart heroic horses, unfortunately most have a dumb human on top of them.)

David S. HM3,

Read the book on Reckless…although not greatly written as it’s very repetitive in places and you will get a much better appreciation for what this God given critter did for Corps and Country!! The men associated with this horse certainly appreciated what it did and highly approved all it’s honors..

Pete C.,

#I am a 71 year Old Marine who served in Danang(1967 to 1968 ) ! R eckless was just a Horse and Not a Human Being! Horses don’t know what Medals are, etc .They don’t appreciate them. They appreciate Oats and Sugar Cubes to Eat. They also appreciate a Companion Horse, which is of the Opposite Sex , in their Pasture . *

PETER Perez-Donnelly,

It was a very nice story of brave Marines and the use of a horse to bring supplies to needy Marines. But as far as monuments to animals no. I’m ok with grave markers . I also can’t see giving animals medals as well. Now don’t get me wrong I love animals and would never hurt or mistreat an aminal. I would credit the Marines that took care of that horse and the handler. I know this will not change anything its just a pointt of view . Happy Thanksgiving Semper Fi


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