Introducing Sergeant Reckless, a small Mongolian-bred mare with a racing background in her native country, who became a national hero and the pride of the US Marines.
She was purchased at the age of five for 250 US dollars – from a young Korean boy who needed money to buy his sister an artificial limb – by US Marines during the Korean War to carry ammunition for the 75mm Recoilless Rifle Platoon.
During the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March 1953, she made 51 trips up to the gun sites – most of the time by herself – and carried more than 9000 pounds of ammunition on her back. Wounded twice, she never stopped. She also evacuated wounded and dead from the battlefield, and quickly earned the love and respect of all the Marines who served with her.
In the 1990s Sgt. Reckless 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. 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. Although Sgt. Reckless has been recognized with bronze statues at both Camp Pendleton (California) and the National Museum of the Marine Corps (Virginia), it was the vision of James E. “Ted” Bassett III, a Marine Corps combat veteran of World War II and former president and chairman of the Keeneland Association, that she be memorialised at the Kentucky Horse Park. She has had books written about her and even a song dedicated to her.
We understand that Reckless, who received two Purple Hearts, was a colourful 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 has been called by some America’s greatest war horse.