The career of Reckless, in brief.
from the dust jacket of Reckless, Pride of the Marines, by Andrew Geer:
Foaled by a race horse named Morning Flame, the favorite of track fans in Seoul, Korea, Reckless wins the adoration of Kim Huk Moon, a young Korean boy whose courage and perseverance had made him her mother’s devoted trainer and rider. Kim learns to love Reckless even more than he had loved Flame, and when war envelopes their country the inseparable pair leave the deserted race track and are exposed to many daring and exciting adventures together. Peace comes eventually, but not before Kim, in order to get the money to buy an artificial leg for his wounded sister, bravely makes the greatest sacrifice of his life when he sells Reckless to American Marines for use as an ammunition carrier at the front.
From the first part of the story, which describes in stirring detail the lives of Kim Huk Moon and his family in a small Korean village and Kim’s dedicated affection for the little sorrel mare, we follow Reckless through her war experiences. Bought by a Marine gun crew with their own money and trained to help them carry shells for the Recoilless Rifle which they have nicknamed “Reckless”, she is dubbed with the same name and made their mascot. Her antics, and her insatiable appetite for such surprising tidbits as poker chips, coca cola, shredded wheat, scrambled eggs, vitamin pills, a hat or two, and her specially made blanket of red silk trimmed with gold, bring welcome amusement and relief amid the strains of combat.
Her first real test under battle conditions comes when she is led beside the thunderous rifle to which she has packed ammunition over rugged hily terrain. There were some who doubted that a horse could withstand the tremendous blast of the Recoilless Rifle and remain calm. Will she hold? Will she bolt? The gun is fired:
Wham-whoosh! The hills bellowed and rocketed with the roar. Abehind the weapon spurted a flame of dust. Though weighted down with six shells, Reckless left the ground with all four feet ... her eyes went white. ‘Take it easy, Reckless,’ Coleman, a Marine, soothed. Wham-whoosh! Reckless went into the air again, but not quite so far. She snorted and shook her head to stop the ringing in her ears. Wham-whoosh! She shook as the concussive blast of air struck her, but she did not rear. She stood closer to Coleman, trembling slightly, but the white was gone from her eyes.”
She had held, and from that day Reckless was an indispensable member of the gun crew, making trip after trip, often alone, from the ammunition supply point to the gun, laden with heavy shells under the most devastating enemy fire, never faltering, never failing.
So completely does Reckless capture the hearts of her Marine comrades with her beguiling shenanigans and her fearlessness that they present her with a special citation for bravery, promote her to the rank of sergeant and personally pay her way to the United States where she will enjoy well-earned retirement pastured in the rolling hills of Camp Pendleton, in California. Retirement, however, does not mean that her exploits are at an end, because the fame of Reckless has spread far and wide, and good Marines, unlike some, do not fade away. Semper fidelis, always faithful, was never a more fitting motto than in the example of this horse.
Photos and captions from the Pendleton Scout.
Thanks to Mr. Jesse Winters
Reminiscences of Reckless,
by a Marine who cared for her.
My first mistake was
to stick my hand up when the first Sgt. asked if anyone knew
anything about horses. I think this was in 1959 and if I remember
she retired in November 1960 and went to live her life on a farm.
She had two colts, Dauntless & Fearless.
Well, I was assigned the duties of taking care of feeding, exercising
and in general looking after her needs, including taking care of
cleaning the stall etc. This was done before and after my regular
work day and lasted about a year until she retired from the Corps. A
short time later I found myself in the far east with the 9th Marines.
Because she was a war horse from Korea, and carried ammo across
no mans land to the troops on the front line, when she returned to
the States there were written orders that nothing would ever be
placed on her back other than her blankets, I remember asking how
I was to exercise her if I could not get on her; that's when I
learned that I was to run along side until she got tired and wanted
to go back to the stall. Lucky for me she knew the word oats and I
could usually get her to cut her runs short.
I remember that when she retired as a S/Sgt, I was not permitted to
lead her in the parade because she out-ranked me and I could not
give her orders, so they found a ranking NCO for that duty.
There were times that some of the Marines after a night on the town
would turn her out to run free, or a number of times take her into a
barrack and tie her up to someone's bunk or the First Sgt's door
knob. As you may expect I got little sleep those nights.
On one occasion while she was out running free after the troops
turned her out she found her way to the flower garden of the wife of
the base commander. I'm sure there were a lot of snickers about
that, but let me tell you I was one PFC sweating bullets getting her
out of there with the General standing in front of his house. I
remember he was saying something ~ I don't think it was good. I do
remember throwing him a salute as we took off at a trot up the trail.
Cpl (E-4) Jesse J. Winters