Sergeant Reckless - DM 68

Date of Award: 27 July 2016

"For attention to duty, devotion and loyalty to the United States Marine Corps."

Sergeant Reckless' Story

The Korean War included some of the fiercest combat in military history. Ferocious firefights in horrendous weather and challenging terrain caused thousands of American, British and Korean casualties – but during it all a ‘true Marine’ came to the fore: Sgt Reckless.

Originally bred as a racehorse, Reckless – called after the nickname used for the ‘Recoilless Rifle’ she carried ammunition for – joined the Anti-Tank Division of the US Marines in October 1952.

While training at the Marine’s ‘Hoof Camp’, Reckless showed the intelligence and bravery she’d later become famous for. Her trainers remarked how quickly she picked things up and once she’d learned a task, she never needed coaching again.

Once in action, Reckless completed gruelling missions in mountainous terrain and often freezing conditions. Despite constant enemy fire and numerous hazards, including shell craters and barbed wire, she carried out her duties and quickly became a much-loved, morale-boosting comrade.

The Battle of Outpost Vegas in March 1953 was one of the most savage in Marine Corps’ combat history. With almost 30 tons of bombs dropped, the combat zone was reduced to a ‘smoking, deathpocked rubble’ – and Reckless was right in the thick of it.

Over 5 days, she made 51 supply trips to the frontline – carrying more than 386 rounds of ammunition weighing around five tonnes in total – through steep mountains and open paddy fields. Constantly under fire and facing up to 500 rounds per minute, Reckless was wounded twice.

As the battle raged on, she bravely transported multiple casualties to safety on her return trips. After loading up with ammunition, she repeated the process: again, and again and again. How many lives she helped save is unknown.

At the end of the war a campaign was launched to bring her home and she received a hero’s welcome in San Francisco Bay in November 1954. On 15 June 1957 she was promoted to ‘Sergeant Reckless’ in recognition of her combat record.

Sgt Reckless was posthumously honoured with the PDSA Dickin Medal on 27 July 2016. Her citation read: “For attention to duty, devotion and loyalty to the United States Marine Corps.”