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VFW Magazine February 2017 : Page 37

S he was a beer-drinking, scrambled-egg loving Marine who saved count-less lives. She earned two Purple Hearts, a National Defense Service Medal and Navy Unit Commendation, among other honors. But before that, she had to complete ‘hoof camp.’ Reckless, a Mongolian racing horse, left her potential life on the racetrack to carry ammunition and wounded Marines to and from battlefields during the Korean War with the 75th Recoilless Rifle Plt., Anti-Tank Co., 5th Marine Regt., 1st Marine Div. Robin Hutton, who authored Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse , said Lt. Eric Pedersen, of the 75th Recoilless Rifle Pltn., “saw the need to get a pack animal of some kind” to carry ammunition across the rough terrain. After receiving permis-sion, Pedersen visited a race track in Seoul, Korea, where he bought Reckless, then named Ah-Chim-Hai, for $250 from a man who sold her to “buy an artificial leg for his sister who lost hers in a land-mine accident.” “They brought her back to camp on Oct. 26, 1952, and she became a Marine that day,” Hutton said. They changed her name to Reckless, representing the recoilless rifle the unit used. “That was also the attitude you had to have to be associated with that weapon because it was a very dangerous weapon,” Hutton said. “The back blast could really injure or kill someone.” PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMP PENDELTON ARCHIVES Tech Sgt. Joe Latham (pictured) put Reckless through ‘hoof camp’ in preparation for her active-duty service. Latham, who worked with horses in the past, taught the Mongolian racing horse how to run for her bunker and get in and out of a trailer. PREPARING FOR BATTLE Reckless’ time in “hoof camp,” according to Hutton, consisted of learning how to run for her bunker and get in and out of a trailer. Tech. Sgt. Joe Latham, who worked with horses extensively in the past, trained her. “She got so good at her commands that Joe Latham could use hand signals and tell her what to do,” Hutton said. “It was really quite amazing how she just trusted them and built this great bond with them.” Latham, according to Hutton’s book, taught the Mongolian race horse to “lie down, even kneel, in case there was no cover and she needed to crawl into a shallow bunker for protection from incoming fire.” Reckless’ first mission was in November 1952 at the firing line known as “Hedy’s Crotch,” a valley “between outposts Ingrid to the south and Hedy to the north, in the center sector of the Jamestown Line.” “They weren’t sure how she was going to react to it,” Hutton said. “She got through it because she trusted her men.” She also participated in Raid Tex in January 1953 Reckless received two and Operation Charlie in February. But it was the Battle promotions, one in for Outpost Vegas , a five-day battle in March 1953, that 1957 and the next earned Reckless two Purple Hearts. in 1959. The battle for the area known as the “Iron Triangle” — with outposts Vegas, Reno and Carson — ran from PHOTO COURTEST OF CAMP PENDELTON ARCHIVES Off the battlefield, Reckless was known for her antics, such as drinking beer, eating in the mezz tent with her fellow Marines and more. She also enjoyed Hershey’s bars, scrambled eggs and candy. FEBRUARY 2017   • WWW.VFW.ORG • 37

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