The little mare who became a Korean War hero has been immortalized in bronze.
The statue of the horse, Staff Sergeant Reckless, has been dedicated in Semper Fidelis Memorial Park, next to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia.
The July 26 dedication coincided with commemorations marking 60 years since the conflict came to an uneasy close.
Reckless was a small horse who served valiantly with a Marine recoilless rifle platoon and was even decorated for her actions.
Her strength and determination made her a valuable asset, as well as a morale-booster for Marines locked in a difficult conflict.
A Marine lieutenant bought Reckless for $US250 from a young Korean boy who needed money to buy his sister an artificial limb. The mare was then aged 5.
She carried ammunition to the frontlines and quickly became a beloved presence on and off the battlefield.
One of her finest moments was during the Battle of Outpost Vegas, a violent five-day battle during which the brave horse made 51 trips up and down a steep mountainside to reach the Marines’ firing positions.
To this day, Korean War veterans recall seeing Reckless repeatedly make the harrowing trek to bring both life-saving supplies, boosting morale in doing so.
The monument honoring the mare, sculpted by Jocelyn Russell, captures her in an uphill stance, carrying a load of ammunition. In all, she ferried 9000 pounds of ammunition, at times returning to base carrying injured soldiers.
The idea of placing the monument at the museum came to Robin Hutton, president of Angels Without Wings Inc, the non-profit group sponsoring the monument, after she read about the actions of Reckless in a compilation of horse stories.
“I was so inspired by her story that I instantly knew something had to be done to honor her,” Hutton said.
“This monument, the book I’ve written about Reckless and all my efforts have been a labor of love. I’m so excited to see her get the recognition she deserves.”
The dedication program included remarks by General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, as well as Hutton and Russell.
Those watching also heard from Sergeant Harold Wadley, who served with Reckless in Korea, and Lieutenant General Robert Blackman, president and chief executive of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.
Other Marines who served with Reckless were also in attendance, as well as many other Korean War veterans as they celebrated the 60th anniversary of the war’s end.
The Mongolian mare’s story is also being told through a small exhibit in the museum’s Korean War Gallery.
The exhibit includes several artifacts and photos as well as an educational children’s component, allowing young visitors to measure “how many hands high” they are in comparison to Reckless.
The deeds of Reckless rank her among America’s greatest war heroes.
She was named Reckless after the platoon’s recoilless rifles. The little warhorse quickly became a legend and was honored with the formal rank of sergeant.
Her service was exemplary, and in the 1990s she was named by Life magazine among America’s top 100 heroes.
She was trained to step over communication cables, get down when there was incoming fire and to ignore the sounds of battle.
She was wounded twice, but that did not stop her.
Sergeant Reckless was promoted to Staff Sergeant Reckless in 1959 in honour of her war efforts, and she returned to the United States to live out her days at Camp Pendleton. She died in 1968.
Reckless, who received two Purple Hearts, was a colorful character in her own right, and would hang out around the mess hall and tents when not carrying ammunition or soldiers.
She was a fan of beer, pickles and pancakes.
She was, for a time, a household name, like Lassie, Seabiscuit and Mister Ed.
A small granite monument sits near the stable gates at Camp Pendleton in honour of her memory, but her fans have been fundraising to honour her in a more significant way.
They have been raising cash for two monuments, the first just unveiled, and the second planned for Camp Pendleton, along with a proper graving marking at the camp.