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11 famous horses from history

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on Aug. 26, 2016, 2:10 p.m.
Sergeant Reckless getting promoted to Staff Sergeant in 1959 at Camp Pendleton.

Photo: USMC photographer (Rhoades)/Wikipedia

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Sargent Reckless

A more modern-day war horse — one far less noble in appearance than famous Bucephalus, but just as noble at heart — is Sargent Reckless. She is perhaps the most decorated horse in U.S. military history.

The young mare became part of the U.S. Marine Corps in 1952 when Lieutenant Eric Pedersen purchased the mare from a young Korean man, and she became a pack horse carrying ammunition for recoilless — or "reckless" — rifles and other supplies to the soldiers during the Korean War.

According to Robin Hutton, "During [a] five-day battle, on one day alone she made 51 trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites, 95 percent of the time by herself. She carried 386 rounds of ammunition (over 9,000 pounds — almost FIVE TONS! — of ammunition), walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains with enemy fire coming in at the rate of 500 rounds per minute. And as she so often did, she would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain to safety, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns."

As beloved as she was for her bravery, she was also famous for her appetite.

The Marine Corp Association and Foundation notes that she, "liked to supplement her diet with what the Marines were eating. She once strolled near the galley tent and ate some scrambled eggs that were offered to her. She then washed them down with coffee. On later occasions Reckless ate bacon and buttered toast with her scrambled eggs."

Despite her diet and the many bullets whizzing around her, the horse survived the war and was recognized for her role. Reckless was brought back to the United States in 1954 where she was cared for by the 5th Marines. She was promoted to staff sergeant in 1959, then retired with full military honors in 1960. The mare was the recipient of two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. Several books have been written about this remarkable and quirky little horse.