One of her battles, the Battle of Vegas, was hopeless. Ch...inese troops outnumbered the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Marines by ten to one. It seemed there was no chance for a victory other than to withdraw the Marines and regroup for a counter attack, but the troops at Vegas were nearly cut off. Escape was almost impossible.
The Battalion determined the best tactic for escape was to protect the movements of the Marines with cover fire, and a heavy “wall of fire” was to be provided by launching continuous rounds from recoilless rifles…otherwise known as reckless rifles. High ground was chosen for the gun placements, but the needed ammunition was heavy. The rugged winding trails leading to their placements were 45 degrees up-hill. Supplying ammo would be difficult, but constant re-arming of the guns was needed in order for the plan to succeed. The “wall of fire” could not stop until the Marines were safe.
Reckless had been trained to supply these “reckless rifles” on the front lines with ammo while avoiding enemy fire as much as possible. Her learning had been swift, and she did her task without assistance from a human.
The battle lasted for five days. In one 24 hour period alone, while under heavy fire, the little sorrel mare made over fifty trips up the rugged winding trails of the forty-five degree hill. On that day she traveled over 35 miles, and carried more than 4 tons of ammo to the gun emplacements with no human assistance. She stopped only once: to put herself between three trapped Marines and enemy fire while “shielding” them to safety. Twice wounded, she was undaunted. She knew the importance of her task, and every Marine in the Battalion knew it, too. They gave her water and food, and cleaned blood from her eyes as she passed them by.
In the end the plan worked, and constant fire never ceased. The fire curtain held, and protected the Marines as they regrouped, and then re-took the territory. The battle was won.
At the end of the battle, Sgt Reckless was given a rub down and special treats. She drank water, beer, and soda from the helmets of grateful Marines. The next day she awoke with lameness. She walked around constantly until the limp went away. After she “shook it off,” she returned to the munitions depot on her own accord….ready to carry ammo up the hill again. It’s what she wanted to do. There would be other battles to fight….this had been just one of many.
On November 10, 1960 she was given the rank of Staff Sergeant, USMC in a ceremony held for her at her Camp Pendleton, Ca. home. In attendance at the ceremony were her comrades in arms from Korea, her two foals whom she had given to the United States Marines and Marine Corp Commandant Gen Randolph Pate whom had fought side by side with her in Korea. Gen. Pate personally presented the stripes to her.
In May of 1968 SSgt Reckless, USMC died. Please never forget her…..and don’t let history forget her, either.
“Knowing what that mare had done, the order was that there was never to be any more weight than a blanket put on that mare’s back again — and that order stood. So, when Reckless went on her daily jog at Camp Pendleton, the Marine accompanying her went on foot."
Her Facebook page is here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sgt-Reckless/168429476628917?ref=ts&fref=ts
Another great site: http://www.cowboysindians.com/Cowboys-Indians/July-2011/Sgt-Reckless/