War is hell, of course, but it’s also the source of some pretty unbelievable stories. One of the most intriguing involves a brave racehorse who helped shape the outcome of the Korean War.
Meet Sgt. Reckless
The mare was initially bought by a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant from a boy in South Korea in 1952 and quickly went to work carrying ammunition for service members in the Anti-Tank Company later the same year.
She got her name — Reckless — from the recoilless rifles that used the ammunition she carried. These notoriously unsafe guns were commonly referred to as “reckless” rifles.
And while she served admirably as a pack animal, it wasn’t until the devastating Battle of Outpost Vegas in March 1953 that she truly earned her stripes. By this time Reckless had already accepted the marines as part of her “herd,” and as service members were being gunned down all around her she made tireless journeys to resupply them with ammo … including a staggering 51 trips in just one day.
“A critical lifeline”
Reckless herself was injured on two separate occasions but never stopped providing crucial assistance to the marines around her, including Sgt. Harold E. Wadley who later wrote: “She was a critical lifeline to the guns that were firing in support of us.”
The companionship she offered, not to mention the invaluable services she provided, prompted military brass to make her the only horse in American history to achieve the rank of sergeant.
After the war, Sgt. Reckless lived at Camp Pendleton until her death in 1968. She received a burial with full honors and in the decades since, her story has been memorialized in several books and with statues at the military base where she lived, a Virginia museum, and a Kentucky horse park.