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Horse Which Became Hero During Korean War, and Focus Of Book Subject Of Event On South Coast

It's a virtually forgotten story of a Marine repeatedly braving fierce gunfire during one of the most brutal battles during the Korean War to deliver critically needed ammunition to fellow Marines.

There were many tales of heroism from the March, 1953 battle for Outpost Vegas. But, this hero was a she, and not a he, and not a person, but a horse. A Ventura County author sealing in the South Coast this week has written a book about this remarkable horse, called “Sergeant Reckless: America’s War Horse.”

Camarillo author Robin Hutton spent more than seven years researching the remarkable horse’s story.

Hutton says the horse’s military career started in 1952. She had been used to pull carts full of rice from rice paddies to docks. A marine commander realized the horse would be more efficient than his men trying to carrying heavy ammunition up trails to front line positions.

She quickly adapted to becoming a Marine. She learned to run to bunkers when someone would shout “incoming” because of incoming artillery fire. She was allowed to walk around the Marine camp, and enter tents, and even enjoyed scrambled eggs and Coca-Cola.

But, in March of 1953, the horse really stepped up in the “Battle for Outpost Vegas.” Hutton says not only was the horse calm under fire, she kept going even after being wounded. She made more than 50 trips under fire to resupply the embattled Marines, and helped carry some of the wounded soldiers from the outpost to safety.

Hutton says the Marines loved Sergeant Reckless, and recognized her for her role in combat. The horse received Purple Hearts and other medal for her time in combat, as and was ultimately promoted to Sergeant, and Master Sergeant by the time she was retired.

Some of the Marines who served with Sergeant Reckless didn’t forget her when the Korean War ended in July of 1953. It took more than a year, but that made arrangement for her to be brought back to the United States. She lived the rest of her life at Camp Pendleton, the Marine Base in San Diego County, and when she died at the age of 20 in 1968, was buried with full military honors.

Sergeant Reckless has monuments in her honor at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia, and at Camp Pendleton. Hutton will speak about the horse’s remarkable story Tuesday night, in a Santa Barbara Navy League event. The 6 p.m. lecture will take place at the University Club of Santa Barbara, and is open to the public. 

Tickets are only available through the Navy League.