SGT Reckless

SGT Reckless

The story of Reckless is not only remarkable – it is unusual. And once you learn about her, you will see why the Marine Corps not only fell in love with her – but honored her and promoted her every chance they got. And it wasn’t just the Marines that served with her in the trenches that honored her – her last promotion to Staff Sergeant was by Gen. Randolph McC Pate – the Commandant of the entire Marine Corps. You can’t get higher than that in the Marines.

Reckless joined the Marines to carry ammunition to the front lines for the 75mm Recoilless Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marines – and she quickly earned the love and respect of all of the Marines that served with her. Lt. Eric Pedersen paid $250 of his own money to a young Korean boy, Kim Huk Moon, for her. The only reason Kim sold his beloved horse was so he could buy an artificial leg for his older sister, Chung Soon, who lost her leg in a land mine accident.

Kim’s loss was the Marines’ gain.

It was not only Reckless’ heroics that endeared the Marines to her – it was her incredible antics off of the battlefield. You will not believe her antics when she was being ignored, or if she was hungry – let’s just say you never wanted to leave your food unattended. As legendary as she was for her heroics – her appetite became even more legendary. This horse had a mind of her own – not to mention, being very determined.

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.

One of Reckless’ finest hours came during the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March of 1953. At the time of this battle it was written that, “The savagery of the battle for the so-called Nevada Complex has never been equaled in Marine Corps history.” This particular battle “was to bring a cannonading and bombing seldom experienced in warfare … twenty-eight tons of bombs and hundreds of the largest shells turned the crest of Vegas into a smoking, death-pocked rubble.” And Reckless was in the middle of all of it.

Enemy soldiers could see her as she made her way across the deadly “no man’s land” rice paddies and up the steep 45-degree mountain trails that led to the firing sites. “It’s difficult to describe the elation and the boost in morale that little white-faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy bringing vitally needed ammunition up the mountain,” Sgt. Maj. James E. Bobbitt recalled.

During this five-day battle, on one day alone she made 51 trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites, 95% of the time by herself. She carried 386 rounds of ammunition (over 9,000 pounds – almost FIVE TONS! — of ammunition), walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains with enemy fire coming in at the rate of 500 rounds per minute. And as she so often did, she would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain to safety, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns. She also provided a shield for several Marines who were trapped trying to make their way up to the front line. Wounded twice, she didn’t let that stop or slow her down.

What she did in this battle not only earned her the respect of all that served with her, but it got her promoted to Sergeant. Her heroics defined the word “Marine.” She was BELOVED by the Marines. They took care of her better than they took care of themselves – throwing their flak jackets over her to protect her when incoming was heavy, risking their own safety.

Her Military Decorations include two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, all of which she wore proudly on her red and gold blanket, along with a French Fourragere that the 5th Marines earned in WW1.

There has never been a horse like Reckless, and her story deserves every honor and recognition she can receive.

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

18 comments


  • MICHAEL S. WHITLOCK, USMC VOLUNTEER (SINCE 2012)

    A SINCERE SALUTE & AN “OOORAH” FOR THIS OUTSTANDING EXAMPLE OF AN “EQUINE LEATHERNECK”—-WOW !!!!!!!!!


  • Karen Balske

    In reply to MICHAEL S. WHITLOCK, USMC VOLUNTEER (SINCE 2012).
    Salute for this amazing horse! I read two books about her and was really impressed! Yes, she was definitely a Marine. I hope to see one of the two statues for her. I wonder why my Marine never told me about her??


  • DANIEL ZAWIEJSKI (SKI) 7TH. MOTOR BATTLION (B CO.) CHU LAI VIETNAM 1966-1967

    SGT. GRITT I E MAILED YOU ABOUT SGT. RECKLESS LAST WEEK, ARE YOU GOING TO START A LINE OF CLOTHING. T SHIRT’S, ETC? LOVED YOUR ARTICLE ON SGT RECKLESS. I LOVE TO READ HISTORY LIKE SGT RECKLESS! BUT DID YOU KNOW IN THE A TRANSPORT UNIT IN WORLD WAR II FIGHTING THE GERMANS ALL SO HAD A SIMULAR SITUATION? THEY ADOPTED A (BEAR) FROM A CUB AND RASIED IT TILL IT WAS FULLY GROWN. IT DID EVERYTHING THE POLISH SOLIDER’S DID, THE PROBLEM WAS THEY HAD TO GO TO THE FRONT LINES TO SUPPLY AMMUNITION TO THE POLISH ARMY BUT DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THE BEAR? IF THEY LEFT IT BEHIND IT WOULD DIE BECAUSE IT DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO FEED IT SELF SO THEY TOOK THE BEAR WITH THEM, WELL THEY FIGURED HE HAD NO CHOICE HE WAS GOING TO DIE EITHER ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. IN THE HEAT OF THE BATTLE MANY POLISH SOLDIER’S LOST THEIR LIVES TRYING TO GET THE AMMUNITION’S TO THE TROOP’S. WHEN THE BEAR SAW THIS HE STARTED PICKING UP AMO BOX’S THREE TIMES MORE THAN A POLISH SOLIDER AND DELIVERED THE (AMO) AND THE BATTLE WAS WON THAT DAY (HU RA!) THE BEAR IS REMEMBERD IN THE (POLISH MUSEUM IN POLAND) TO THIS DAY. WHEN THE UNIT BROKE UP THE BEAR ENDED UP IN A POLISH ZOO TILL THE DAY HE DIED. SEMPER FI (SKI) B CO.7TH MOTOR CHU LAI 66-67


  • David Hooper HM3/USN/FMF/RET

    I was there at the dedication of the statue at Camp Pendleton, I was able to meet the author of the book and the sculptor of the this magnificent statue along with a MARINE that served along side her. The service was great and the statue stands in front of the Camp Pendleton Events Center.


  • Robert Maskill

    I met Sgt. Reckless during my time in the 5th Marines 57-60. Not in combat, she did enjoy a cold Beer.


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