Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sgt. Reckless, a mighty
  United States Marine

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 Marine  Lt. Col. Andrew Geer, who commanded the 2nd Battalion, 5th  Regiment of the 1st Marine Division in Korea, for use as an ammunition carrier at the front.

Bought by Geer and his 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.

Geer wrote two articles about the horse for The Saturday Evening Post in the 1950s and later wrote a book, "Reckless, the Pride of The Marines."

Reckless was left in South Korea as her Marine buddies returned home, but after publication of Greer's  article, Post readers and friends of the horse arranged to bring her to the United States. In preparation for the transfer to Camp Pendleton, Greer wrote the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

So completely did 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 paid her way to the United States where she enjoyed a well-earned retirement pastured in the rolling hills of Camp Pendleton, in California. Retirement, however, did not mean that her exploits were at an end, because the fame of Reckless had 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 that answered to Sgt. Reckless. Five years after arriving at Camp Pendleton, Reckless was promoted to a Staff Sergeant.