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Staff Sgt. Reckless—A Military Hero

In honor of the United States Marines and horses—the two touch my life daily.

December holds many days of celebration for so many of us and for so many reasons. Since I write about and love horses I want to share two of my favorite celebrations with you, one old and one new. 

Dec. 13 was National Day of the Horse. That has a lot of meaning to me and to most of my friends who also own and love horses. This year there is something extra special to add to my December celebrations. It may seem a little “Reckless” to some of you but it does involve a horse. 

I have some pals that belong to the Temecula Eq-Wine Riders. They shared something so unique and amazing with me I had to tell you about it too. This is a new celebration in my life that includes our United States Marines (thank you and I love all of you) and a horse. The Marine Corps means so much to me as well, for more reasons (and you all know who you are) than I have time to share here, and the two came together for me this month.

Horses have a strong history in this area. The military also has a strong history in our area and this is how the two become an extra special celebration for me this month.

U.S. Marine Corp. Division 1, Staff Sgt. Reckless:

Sergeant “Reckless” served as a U.S. Marine during the Korean War. She was the only female to see combat during the Korean War. Often she was under direct fire, many times even shielding soldiers from gunfire and saving their lives. She was wounded twice during her service. This all-but-forgotten war hero sounds amazing enough, but there is more. She was not a human being, but a horse!  

Lt. Eric Pedersen paid $250 of his own money to a young Korean boy, Kim HukMoon, for her. The only reason Kim sold his beloved horse was so he could buy an artificial leg for his older sister, Chung Soon, who lost her leg in a land mine accident. The filly was purchased in 1952 then trained by the U.S. Marines to make numerous trips to the front battle lines with ammunition and supplies. Her service was so remarkable and incredible she was promoted to Staff Sergeant during the war. The Mongolian Mare became a National Hero in 1954. She only stood about 14 hands and weighed about 900 pounds. 

According to the Sgt. Reckless website,

“On one day alone she made 51 trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites, 95% of the time by herself.  She carried 386 rounds of ammunition (over 9,000 pounds – almost FIVE TONS! -- of ammunition), walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains with enemy fire coming in at the rate of 500 rounds per minute.  And as she so often did, she would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain to safety, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns.” 

What a remarkable Marine, and equine! She was retired to the stable at Camp Pendleton in the '60s and hung out with her Marine buddies for the rest of her days. 

It’s said that she loved to be the center of attention, even drank beer with the boys, loved scrambled eggs and was adored by her fellow servicemen. The little horse was buried at Camp Pendleton in 1968 with full Military Honors.  

The U.S. Marines would like to memorialize Sergeant “Reckless” at Camp Pendleton by erecting a monument in her honor. They are holding a fundraiser and the Temecula Eq-Wine Riders and I would love to help them in doing so. I support horses, I support Marines—many of my very good friends are Marines—and to put the two together like this is beyond belief for me. United States Marines amaze me every day and Sgt. Reckless embodies their spirit and heart in a unique way that touches me further. 

You can help too. Donations are being collected and will be presented to the foundation’s chairperson, Robin Hutton, at the end of the holiday season in order to support the mission of erecting a monument to recognize Staff Sergeant Reckless: 

Please make your check payable to: 

Sgt.  Reckless Memorial Fund                                                             
Mail to: Temecula Eq-Wine Riders
Attn: Sgt. Reckless Fundraiser                                                   
P.O. Box 893832
Temecula, CA 92589 

Please send your donation before Dec. 25 if possible.

I will honor both horses and the U.S. Marines this holiday season. My Mustang, Cricket, whinnies her 'thank yous' as well. Check's in the mail ...

Ada Wildberger December 20, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Excellent historical account of one of our nation's bravest war heroes! And, just in time for the December 25 release of "War Horse!" I hope your article inspires folks to view the moves and learn about another side of the heart of the horse!! Thanks, Karen!
Juanita Lee Koth December 22, 2011 at 02:00 AM
Thank you so kindly for spreading the word about Reckless and the fundraiser the Temecula Eq-Wine Riders are so happy to support this holiday season. We hope your readers will be touched by your eloquent words and feel inspired to donate to her memorial. God Bless you all in 2012! Hugs and Hooves, Juanita Koth, President TEWR

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