On Thursday, July 25, Camp Pendleton Marines honored Staff Sgt. Reckless, an equine soldier of the Korean War, in a ceremony at Marine base in Oceanside.
According to a couple websites and Cpt. Bradley Yates, a public relations officer at Camp Pendleton, during actions in Korea in October 1952, 5th Regiment 2nd Lt. Eric Pedersen wanted to increase the firepower of his platoon by securing a pack animal to carry 75mm. shells over rugged terrain. For $250, he bought a petite mare horse named Flame from a Korean racetrack boy who needed money. The horse's name was changed to Reckless and she quickly learned her duties from caretaker Sgt. Joseph Latham.
Reckless went on to serve the Marines in combat. During the bloody five-day Battle of Vegas in March 1953, the horse made 51 solo trips carrying almost 10,000 pounds of ammunition and explosives to the front lines. She also carried wounded Marines and was wounded twice.
After the war, Reckless came to America and was praised as a war hero. She made public appearances, was featured in the Saturday Evening Post, and made several television appearances, including the Art Linkletter Show.
In 1960, she retired to Camp Pendleton and in a ceremony was promoted to staff sergeant by the commandant of the Marine Corps. For her service, Reckless is the U.S. military’s most decorated animal, having earned two Purple Hearts, a Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, all of which she wore on her scarlet-and-gold blanket.
She died of natural causes in May 1968 and was buried with full military honors with a bronze plaque on her grave at the Camp Pendleton stables. In addition to her dedication at Camp Pendleton, as part of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, Reckless was honored with a ten-foot bronze statue of her at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia.