Sgt. Reckless was a revered horse in the Korean War. (Mark Tenally / USA Today)
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TRIANGLE, VA. — Staff Sgt. Reckless, one of the unsung heroes of the American effort in the Korean War, is getting some long-awaited recognition.
Reckless became a Marine war horse in 1952 and carried ammunition to troops at the front lines during battle. She quickly became a beloved presence on and off the battlefield, says Robin Hutton, president of Angels Without Wings, a non-profit group sponsoring a monument to the horse.
Thursday, about a week before the official 60th-anniversary commemoration of the end of the Korean War, a life-size monument of the horse was installed in Semper Fidelis Memorial Park, adjacent to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The statue depicts the horse in an uphill climb. Reckless is the only Korean War horse honored at the park.
The memorial is meant to honor the horse's contributions to the war and her close bonds with Marines, Hutton says. They would feed her their rations and drape their flak jackets over her to provide comfort, she said.
"It was a love story," Hutton said, "and she was their gal."
Reckless was purchased from a young Korean boy, Kim Huk Moon, who sold the horse to pay for an artificial leg for his older sister, according to the memorial's website. In the bomb-filled Battle of Outpost Vegas in 1953, the horse made 51 trips in one day along a mountainside to reach the Marines' firing positions, bringing hurt troops down to safety and returning reloaded with ammunition.
Wounded twice, she traveled 95 percent of the time by herself, the memorial website says.
Reckless' involvement in battle may represent the last time horses had a major role in war, says Lt. Gen. Robert Blackman, president and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.
The memorial will help draw attention to Reckless' service as well as the Marines who served in what is often called "The Forgotten War," Blackman says.
Renee Allen, who visits the National Museum of the Marine Corps at least once a month, says the memorial will provide another way to show support for military efforts overseas.
A formal dedication ceremony for the statue will be held at the park July 26, the day before the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.