No. 1012



The British statesman and author Edmund Burke once said, “Adversity is a severe instructor, set over us by one who knows us better than we know ourselves, as he loves us better too. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill.”
While we know this is true of humans, can it also be true of a horse? I believe so and I think you will agree if you will join me for an exciting adventure that came to be known as “Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse.”
I learned about this horse when a reader sent me a wonderful book with her story. The story of “Sgt. Reckless” is unlike any you will ever read and it is chronicled beautifully by author Robin Hutton, as she made it her mission to resurrect the memory of this little Mongolian mare that became a combat marine and saved countless lives during the Korean War. Quoting from the flyleaf, Robin says, “This once famous horse, recognized as late as 1997 by Life Magazine as one of America’s great heroes – the greatest war horse in American history, in fact – has unfortunately now been largely forgotten.”
But the author set out to change all that. She not only told the horse’s story in her book but almost singlehandedly raised the money to build and dedicate a monument at the National Museum of the Marine Corps and also at Camp Pendleton, where the horse is buried and spent her final days.
The Korean War is basically known as “The Forgotten War,” but I can promise you that it never has been and never will be for those who served there and the families of the 36,914 who died there. The war began in 1950 when Communist North Korea invaded South Korea. This war is often referred to as a “police action” rather than a war because it was fought under the auspices of the United Nations without Congress issuing a formal declaration of war. However, the vast majority of troops were American and the U.N. forces were led by Generals Douglas MacArthur and Matthew Ridgway.
Thanks to Robin Hutton, this little sorrel mare that was called “Reckless” by the Anti-Tank Company of the 5th Marines, will never be forgotten. Here is the meat of the coconut: During the heat of the conflict, the rough terrain made it very difficult for ammo carriers to carry heavy artillery shells for recoilless rifles up steep hills to supply guns that were engaged in the battle. Someone figured out they could make a special packsaddle, strap it on this little mare and she could carry the shells to the guns. They had to move their guns often before the enemy could get zeroed in on them. They found this little horse could carry eight to 10 rounds, weighing more than 192 pounds.
It took a short amount of time to get used to all the noise and the shells bursting all around her, but soon she was making the rounds by herself. Needless to say, “Reckless” saved countless lives and won her the admiration and respect of those who served with her or even heard her story. She became the only horse in history to be officially promoted to the rank of staff sergeant in the U.S. Marines. Her military decorations include two Purple Hearts; Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; Presidential Citation with Star; Navy Unit Citation; National Defense Service Medal; and many others.
It took a real effort, but she was brought to the United States, surrounded by a lot of pomp and circumstances, and retired at Camp Pendleton. There, she had three offspring. To learn more about “Reckless,” visit her website:
(Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)