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Summary

This is the complete and captivating account of how a would-be Korean racehorse became one of the greatest Marine Corps wartime heroes.

Amid an inferno of explosives on a deadly minefield in the Korean War, a four-legged marine proved to be a heroic force of nature. She moved headstrong up and down steep, smoky terrain that no man could travail confidently. In a single day, this small Mongolian mare made fifty-one round-trips carrying nearly five tons of explosives to various gun sites. Sergeant Reckless was her name, and she was the horse renowned for carrying wounded soldiers off the battlefield and making solo trips across combat zones to deliver supplies.

A widely celebrated national hero, Reckless was first featured in 1954 in the Saturday Evening Post and in 1997 when Life magazine published an edition lauding history's one hundred all-time heroes. Equine enthusiast Robin Hutton learned about Sergeant Reckless and spearheaded the effort to commission a monument at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia, near the Marine Corps Base Quantico. In July of 2013, the statue was unveiled. A second monument is planned for Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California, where Reckless lived out her days and is buried.

Hutton has now written a fascinating full biography of Sergeant Reckless, who earned two Purple Hearts for her heroic efforts, among other military decorations. Hutton has spoken with the marines who fought alongside Reckless and tells the complete and captivating tale of how a would-be Korean racehorse became one of the greatest Marine Corps wartime heroes. Sgt. Reckless brings the legend back to life more than half a century later.

©2014 Robin Hutton (P)2014 Blackstone Audio

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remarkable

it never fails to surprise me how resilient. loyal and brave all animals are... what does surprise me is how little these hero's are pushed aside in favour of human endeavours... long live the heroism of Sgt Reckless

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  • Jean
  • 03-08-14

Captivating story

The Military should create a medal for bravery and valor above and beyond duty such as the bronze and silver star for the animals in the service. Also an equivalent of the Medal of Honor should be created and Sgt. Reckless its first recipient. It is obvious this book was well researched. The author interviewed hundreds of Marines and other people whose lives were touched by Reckless and incorporated the wonderful stories into this book. Sgt. Reckless had a unique personality that attracted the Marines to her and she bonded with each member of her unit (75 mm Recoilless Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marines, First Marine Division. Robin Hutton’s passion for this little horse/pony and her story is evident in the details, not just about Sgt. Reckless, but in laying the groundwork for the Military action that Sgt. Reckless participated in. Hutton tells Reckless’s story from birth to her life at Camp Pendleton.

Reckless went through “hoof camp” where she was trained to step over communication lines, barb wire, ignore battle sounds and get down when incoming fire arrived. She only had to be shown once or sometimes twice and she learned the lesson. She was a 13 hand Mongolian mare, chestnut in color with white blaze down her face and three white stockings. She only weighted 900 pounds. Her job was to take ammunition (200 to 300 lbs. per load) to the men and carry the wounded back. Reckless amazingly did this on her own, men loaded her with the ammunitions, and she went alone to deliver it to the men and came back alone with the wounded on her back. She was named Reckless by the Platoon because that was their call sign.

The book goes into detail about the bloody battle of “Outpost Vegas” in March 1953. On one day Reckless made 51 round trips up and down steep terrain that no man could travel carrying nearly 5 tons of ammunitions to various gun sites and returning carrying the wounded. Incoming artillery was exploding at the rate of 500 rounds per minute, through this Reckless covered over 35 miles that day and she did all this solo. She was wounded twice in this battle. Once on her left flank and over her eye. Plus her ears where cut from barbwire. She was promoted to Sergeant by the Marines for her valor in this battle. She was the only true NCO in the Marines; those strips meant something to her men. Sgt. Major James E. Babbitt stated, “It’s difficult to describe the elation and boost in morale that little white faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy bringing vitally needed ammunitions up the mountain.”

Reckless was discharged as Staff Sergeant. Medals awarded are as follows: Two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with Star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation and the French Foarragere. She wore them proudly on her red and gold blanket whenever she was paraded around at official function.

Robin Hutton led a campaign to have Sgt. Reckless recognized by a monument. A Statue of the Mongolian mare, Sgt. Reckless, was dedicated at the National Museum of the Marine Corp, in Triangle Virginia on July 26, 2013. The statue was sculpted by Joycelyn Russell. A second monument is at Camp Pendleton where Reckless lived out her days and is buried. She was the first female Marine in Combat. The Marines just say, “ she was a Marine.” This is a captivating story of the most noble of creatures. If you are interested in history or just a horse lover you will enjoy this book. Susan Boyce did an excellent job narrating the book.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • MountainGoat
  • 24-06-15

Saaaa-lute, Sgt. Reckless!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes I would. The story is one that needs to told, shared, and never forgotten.

What other book might you compare Sgt. Reckless to and why?

I suppose I could "compare" with to other horse stories, but that's a little difficult to do because Reckless was absolutely a one-in-a-million little horse.

What about Susan Boyce’s performance did you like?

I liked her performance. A bit stiff at times where I would have read it with more emotion -- she reads it like a news story instead of a STORY. Overall a good performance.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I always liked when she joined the guys in the mess tent after a long hard day. She was "just" another soldier. What a horse.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel LaRue
  • 14-06-18

Excellent! Great book!

Loved hearing about Sgt. Reckless and her life as a Marine. Very inspiring and a great listen!

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  • Erin Riggs
  • 19-03-18

True warhorse

I loved this true history of The Marine war horse. She was a true hero.

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  • Raven
  • 10-09-17

Awesome story

Loved the story & I want to see the statue near Quantico. All marines should know this story

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  • Amanda
  • 30-07-17

Incredible

Absolutely amazing book. Interesting, shocking, and heartwarming. Non-fiction stories like this are so powerful to me. Highly recommend.

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  • T. Schram
  • 19-06-17

A delight for any horse lover

As a lifelong lover and owner of horses, I had some expectations of this story, and I was bot disappointed. The combination of a story for horse lovers and a story for patriots, as well as a wonderful historical novels, this truly told all three quite well..... Now I have to go and follow all these threads and find out more!!
Very Well Done!!!

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  • Leslie
  • 23-05-17

great story

I had never known about this horse and her accomplishments and her duty to the Marines absolutely wonderful Tales. the story of the men and there undying affection for this horse is moving as well

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  • Laurie Higgins
  • 23-02-17

Well worth reading

It's a bit piecemeal, but is probably due to the available material. The book is well read with one or two incorrect pronunciations, but well done overall. I'm glad I read it.

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  • S. Casrro
  • 12-05-16

Amazing little horse

What made the experience of listening to Sgt. Reckless the most enjoyable?

I think the relationships with the different handlers was the window into the personality of Reckless. She did give the soldiers not only a good laugh, but an example of team work between animals & humans.