Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse, by Robin Hutton

MWSA Review

Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse
The Little Mare That Could

Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse is a beautiful story about an amazing horse and the meaning of the Marine Corp's motto, Semper Fi; but most importantly, it is a story of compassion and loyalty—traits which make American fighting men and women the best in the world. American soldiers are known for their affection toward animals and children in war zones, and so it was during the Korean Conflict.

Reminded of the childhood story, The Little Engine that Could, which taught the value of determination and hard work, I couldn't help but think that this brave little Mongolian-Korean horse, Ah-Chim Hai (which translates Flame in the Morning), exemplified those very traits. Purchased by a Marine lieutenant to haul 75mm Recoilless Rifle ammunition up the steep Korean hills to the guns, Flame took to the job and quickly learned her duties. Fearless and with an indomitable will, The Little Mare That Could became a Marine and met the enemy head on. Time after time the heroic little mare braved combat and incoming fire–usually alone–to deliver ammunition to her Marines on the front lines. Ah-Chim Hai needed an American name and she was named Reckless after the 75mm Recoilless Rifles (a/k/a Reckless Rifles) she supported. Reckless became Sergeant Reckless when she was officially inducted into the Corps and gained the undying loyalty of every U.S. Marine who served with her. 

During the worst day of one of the fiercest battle in Marine history, Sgt. Reckless made 51 round trips up and down steep slopes from the ammo resupply point to her Marines and their 75mm guns. Covering a total of 35 miles, she delivered a total of 9,000 pounds of badly needed ammo. Often she returned with a wounded Marine on her back. Sgt. Reckless was a true Marine and was recognized as one.

Sgt. Reckless' deeds won the respect and admiration of the Marine Corps, and many, many others. She shared the men's trenches, bunkers and tents, often sleeping by their stoves; was known to eat in the mess tent; and even visited the officer's bar on least one occasion. Always hungry, she ate anything, including her Aussie bush hat. She was partial to beer, cake, pie, and chocolate. Known for her escapades, bravery and sense of duty, she became a Marine Corps legend.

Returning to America as a war hero after the Armistice, she retired as a staff sergeant (E-5) in 1960 at Camp Pendleton, California. She was the only animal to be awarded a military rank. She passed away in 1968 at the age of twenty and is buried on Camp Pendleton where a memorial headstone sits at the entrance to Stepp Stables. Her medals and decorations included two Purple Hearts, National Defense Service Medal, U.S. Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, French fourragére, and numerous unit citations.

Finally immortalized in 2013, thanks to the efforts of author Robin Hutton and her TEAM RECKLESS, a 10-foot bronze statue likeness of Staff Sgt. Reckless now proudly stands in the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia. 

Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse is a great read, an inspiration for our children, and a book that will permanently reside on my bookshelf. 

Reviewed by: Lee Boyland

She Wasn't a Horse—She Was a Marine!

She might not have been much to look at—a small "Mongolian mare," they called her—but she came from racing stock, and had the blood of a champion. Much more than that, Reckless became a war hero—in fact, she became a combat Marine, earning staff sergeant’s stripes before her retirement to Camp Pendleton.

This once famous horse, recognized as late as 1997 by Life magazine as one of America’s great heroes—the greatest war horse in American history, in fact—has unfortunately now been largely forgotten. But author Robin Hutton is set to change all that. Not only has she been the force behind recognizing Reckless with a monument at the National Museum of the Marine Corps and at Camp Pendleton, but she has now put between hard covers the full story, the rousing—
sometimes comic, sometimes tragic—life of this four-legged war hero who hauled ammunition to frontline Marines and inspired them with her relentless, and reckless, courage.

Seabiscuit, Misty of Chincoteague, Dan Patch, Man O' War, Secretariat... Reckless belongs in their number as one of America's most beloved horses. Hers is a story to inspire young and old, military veteran and casual equestrian. Here is the story of the horse they called Reckless.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.