The animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross has been awarded to a “life-saving” horse who served in the Korean War.
Sergeant Reckless was posthumously recognised for her bravery and devotion with the PDSA Dickin Medal on the 63rd anniversary of the end of the war.
A special ceremony was held yesterday (27 July) at the Korean War Memorial in Victoria Embankment Gardens, London.
PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin was joined by a current serving King’s Troop horse, Haldalgo (pictured, top and below), who wore Reckless’ medal.
“Reckless’ story is one of conspicuous gallantry and the bravery of this remarkable horse embodies just why we honour animals in this way,” said Mrs McLoughlin.
Sergeant Reckless carried ammunition and wounded soldiers with the US Marines during the war, which lasted from 1950-1953.
The chestnut mare is the 68th animal to receive the award, which is given to those who display outstanding acts of bravery during military conflict.
She was nominated by author Robin Hutton, who spent six years researching her life and writing her biography, and was supported by the US Marine Corps.
Bred as a racehorse, Reckless was bought for $250 (£190) and trained as an ammunitions carrier for the 5th Marines’ anti-tank division.
Her name was given to her by soldiers as the gun for which she carried ammunition was nicknamed the “reckless” rifle.
The mare endured difficult conditions, including freezing winters and frequent gruelling missions hauling ammunitions across mountain terrain.
On one day during the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March 1953, she made 51 trips from the ammunition supply point to the firing sites.
She carried 386 rounds of ammunition — almost five tonnes — walked more than 35 miles over rice paddy fields and mountains under heavy enemy fire.
Reckless would also carry wounded soldiers back down the mountain to safety.
“Her heroics embody the word Marine and those who served alongside Reckless truly loved her,” said Mr 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 to protect her when incoming fire was heavy, risking their own safety.”
- War horse recognised for his bravery during World War I
- Life-size war horse memorial unveiled by Princess Anne
- Police horses awarded medals for bravery
In November 1954, hundreds gathered on San Francisco’s dock to give her a hero’s welcome on her return to the US.
She retired from the Marines in 1960 and died aged 20 in 1960. She was buried with full military honours at her home in California.