Sergeant Reckless, a chestnut mare who served in the U.S. military 63 years ago during the Korean War, has been honoured with the PDSA’s Dickin Medal. The award is the equivalent of the Victoria Cross for animals.
Reckless lived to be 20 years old despite being wounded twice. She died in 1968.
Reckless was bred to be a racehorse. The Marine Corps bought her for $250 in October 1952.
She received the “Reckless” nickname because she carried ammo for the Recoilless Rifle, a gun so dangerous it was called the “reckless” rifle.
In the course of one five-day fight, 28 tons of bombs were dropped. The terrain of the battlefield was described by Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Geer as “smoking, death-pocked rubble.” In one day, Reckless made 51 trips during the Outpost Vegas battle in 1953. She carried more than 9,000 pounds of supplies and walked more than 35 miles in that one day alone.
Brian Hutton, the author, nominated the Mongolian mare for the award after he spent six years researching and writing her biography. According to Hutton, “she was loved by the Marines, they took care of her better than they took care of themselves, throwing their flak jackets over her when the incoming fire was heavy. Her relationship with the soldiers underscores the vital role of animals in war, not just for their prowess and strength in battle, but for the support and camaraderie they provide to their fellow troops. There is no knowing a number of lives she saved.”
The ceremony was held at Victoria Embankment Gardens on Wednesday. Hidalgo, the horse, received the award on Reckless’ behalf.
Maria Dickin founded the PDSA animal charity and established the Dickin Medal in 1943 to highlight acts of bravery by animals in war. Most of the awards have gone to carrier pigeons.
Approximately 37,000 US and 1,000 British soldiers died in the Korean War. The war lasted from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953.