Men and women veterans are being honored in Washington, D. C. this weekend as part of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice. Another veteran will be honored Friday, July 26, 2013, at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia, with the unveiling of a life-size statue. That monument is of the horse, Reckless, who carried ammunition to the front lines and the wounded off the battlefield to safety.
Sergeant Reckless was a Mongolian mare and weighed 900 pounds. When the war broke out in 1950, her name at that time was Flame and her stable was at the Seoul racetrack. In 1952, a Korean boy sold her to the Marines for $250 to help pay for family medical supplies.
The Recoilless Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marine Regiment renamed her “Reckless” when they noticed she was not startled by artillery fire. Her caretaker, Sgt. Joseph Latham, taught her how to kneel during incoming fire, step over communication wires and barbed wire, and how to lie down on command.
In March 1953, she proved herself above and beyond the call of duty by making 51 trips within a five-day battle carrying a total of 10,000 pounds of ammunition and explosives from a supply depot to the front lines. Marines would put the wounded on her back and she would carry them to safety. She was wounded twice and was awarded two Purple Hearts plus other military honors.
She is known for her appetite as well as her bravery. She ate the usual carrots and apples, but also loved such foods as scrambled eggs, Coca-Cola, and chocolate pudding. She was, by all accounts, a unique horse.
After the war, the Marines had her brought home to Camp Pendleton in California, where she lived the rest of her life. She died of natural causes and was buried there, May 13, 1968, with full military honors.
The story of Reckless is a true story. One book has already been written about her, Reckless: Pride of the Marines, by Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Geer who served alongside her. Prior to her death, she made several television appearances and was featured in various print media. Life Magazine included her in their Special Collector’s Edition in 1997 titled “Celebrating Our Heroes.” Reckless even has her own website, created by Robin Hutton who has written a book about Reckless to be published later this year.
The 10-foot bronze statue to be unveiled Friday is another way of honoring this extraordinary member of the Marines. Some of the veterans who served alongside her will be present at the dedication. The event is scheduled from 12:45 to 3 p.m., at the museum, 18900 Jefferson Davis Highway, Triangle, VA. For more information about Reckless, the dedication ceremony, or the National Museum of the Marine Corps, please visit the websites listed below.
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Senior Museum Correspondent