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The Four-Legged Marine Who Became a Korean War Hero

December 27, 2017 in History

By Christopher Klein

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Reckless preparing to go to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California after serving in the Korean War with the 5th Marine Regiment. (Courtesy of the United States Marine Corps Archive)

The United States Marine Corps has endured few firefights as savage as the Battle for Outpost Vegas in the waning months of the Korean War. With a roar that sounded like “twenty tornadoes tearing at a countryside,” according to one serviceman, more than 500 mortar and artillery rounds per minute deluged the mountaintop ridge where the Recoilless Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marines attempted to repel a Chinese assault on March 27, 1953. So much ordnance howled overhead that radar screens could only display a giant, useless blur and incoming and outgoing shells collided in mid-flight.

As the sky fell on the Marines defending Outpost Vegas—so named because it would be a gamble to hold—they rejoiced as the silhouette of their beloved comrade emerged once again from the shroud of smoke that cloaked their position. All day long, their fellow Marine had traversed the “smoking, death-pocked rubble” to deliver fresh ammunition along with a badly needed boost of morale.

Traveling alone on 51 rounds trips through a no-man’s land of rice paddies and scaling a 45-degree incline with bowed head and quivering legs, the solitary figure fought the natural instinct to flee and relied on training and fortitude to deliver nearly 9,000 back-breaking pounds of ammunition from the supply point to the gun teams.

The platoon knew their heroic compatriot was no ordinary Marine—and it wasn’t just because she was a horse.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Reckless preparing to go to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California after serving in the Korean War with the 5th Marine Regiment. (Courtesy of the United States Marine Corps Archive)

A calming presence amid the chaos erupting around Outpost Vegas, the mighty mare named “Reckless” lugged six rounds, then eight, at a time up the mountain and evacuated wounded Marines back down the slope for medical treatment—even after sustaining two shrapnel wounds that would earn her a pair of Purple Hearts. On one trip, Reckless even donned flak jackets and shielded four Marines up the mountain.

“Horses are flight animals, but Reckless ran toward the danger because she knew the guys needed her,” says Robin Hutton, author of Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse.

One of those guys was Sgt. Harold Wadley, who was astounded at the sight of the riderless horse. “I looked back at the eastern skyline through all the smoke and swinging flare light and could hardly believe my eyes,” the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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