November 11th is Veterans Day, a day to honor and respect those who served our country. But did you know that many animals, including horses, have served in the military and are considered veterans as well? One of the most famous animal veterans is a mare named Reckless.
Reckless was a small Mongolian mare, only 13.1 hands high. In 1952, the U.S. Marines bought her in Korea for $250. Her job was to carry ammunition to the front lines. According to the Sgt. Reckless website, during the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March of 1953, Reckless made 51 trips carrying ammunition. She carried 386 rounds of ammunition and walked over 35 miles under enemy fire, often unescorted. Her heroics in battle got her promoted up the ranks, and she retired a Staff Sergeant. Her military decorations include two Purple Hearts, a Good Conduct Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation with star, a National Defense Service Medal, a Korean Service Medal, a United Nations Service Medal, a Navy Unit Commendation, and a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. Quite impressive for a horse!
Not far from Maryland you’ll find the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. The museum is really cool with great exhibits and scenes you can walk through as well as actual aircraft hanging from the ceiling. But one of the things I found most inspiring was the Sgt. Reckless Monument and exhibit. I was actually there for the monument dedication on July 26, 2013, in the museum's memorial garden, Semper Fidelis Memorial Park. You can still watch the full dedication ceremony on C-SPAN.
Sgt. Reckless monument on dedication day in Semper Fidelis Memorial Park, National Museum of the Marine Corps
(photos courtesy of Holden Rafey)
The monument showing Reckless climbing a steep slope carrying supplies really captures the small mare’s bravery and service in a beautiful way, thanks to artist Jocelyn Russell. There is also an exhibit inside the Korean War section of the museum with her story, photos, and artifacts on display, so you can learn more about Reckless. They have a life-size illustration of her so you can really appreciate how strong this little horse must have been to carry all that weight!
Sgt. Reckless exhibit inside the National Museum of the Marine Corps
(photo by Holden Rafey)
There are several inspiring books about Sgt. Reckless and her story, including Robin Hutton’s award-winning book "Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse” (you can watch an interview with the author here). I’ve read this book and it’s great! Ms. Hutton heads “Operation Reckless,” and she is responsible for the monument at the National Museum of the Marine Corps and a second monument at Camp Pendleton in California, which was dedicated on October 26, 2016, where Sgt. Reckless lived out her retirement and is buried.
On this Veterans Day, join me in remembering the brave little mare Sgt. Reckless.
ABOUT OUR BLOGGER:
My name is Holden Rafey, and I am honored to be serving as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent. As the MHC Youth Correspondent, I will be posting monthly to this blog about horse-related topics in the state of Maryland to give a youth perspective and share information on topics of interest to MHC youth members. I live in Montgomery County and attend Walter Johnson High School, where I play softball and field hockey. My equestrian trainer is Melinda Cohen, and I ride at her barn, Dream Catcher Farm, in Frederick County. In addition to being the Youth Correspondent for the MHC, I am also serving a second term on the Washington International Horse Show Junior Committee and was proud to see lots of Maryland barns represented at Barn Night!