A US Marine Corps horse was honoured posthumously with the PDSA Dickin Medal for its bravery during the Korean War. Horse Haldalgo, serving for the British Army, received the award on behalf of Sergeant Reckless on Wednesday (27 July) in London.
The heroic war horse became the 68th recipient of the Dickin Medal on the 63rd anniversary of the end of the war, PDSA announced. The ceremony honouring Reckless was held at the Korean War Memorial in Victoria Embankment Gardens and was presented by PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin.
"Reckless' story is one of conspicuous gallantry and the bravery of this remarkable horse embodies just why we honour animals in this way," McLoughlin said in a statement.
The chestnut Mongolian mare was nominated for the award by author Robin Hutton, who spent six years researching Reckless and writing her biography, with the support of the US Marine Corps. "She was loved by the marines, they took care of her better than they took care of themselves, throwing their flak jackets over her when incoming fire was heavy," Hutton said.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Reckless served as an ammunitions carrier for the US Marine Corps' anti-tank division. The BBC reported Reckless was originally bred as a racehorse, but was purchased for $250 (around £190 today) in October 1952 by the US Marine Corps. She was nicknamed Reckless by marines after the ammunition she was tasked to carry: the Recoilless Rifle. The rifle was so dangerous it was dubbed the "reckless" rifle.
In March 1953, she made several trips to not only supply ammunition but also to retrieve wounded troops during heavy bombardment in the battle for Outpost Vegas. In one day, Reckless reportedly made 51 trips, carrying over 9,000lbs of supplies and walking more than 35 miles.
"Although Reckless was wounded twice, she didn't let that stop her or slow her down. There is no knowing the number of lives she saved. What she did in this battle not only earned her the respect of all that served with her, but it got her promoted to Sergeant," Hutton said.
Following the war, the four legged heroine retired to the US and passed away in 1968 at age 20. The PDSA said Reckless was buried with full military honours at Camp Pendleton, California.
"The Korean War played host to some of the fiercest fighting in modern military history. Thousands of British and American troops lost their lives in the treacherous conditions and ferocious fire fights. The conditions that Reckless found herself in were truly perilous and her bravery and tenacity to push forward was remarkable," Lieutenant Colonel Michael Skaggs, who accepted the award on behalf of the US Marine Corps said.
Skaggs added: "I am thrilled to accept Reckless' award on behalf of the US Marine Corps – she embodies the Corps' motto: Semper Fedelis – always faithful."
The Dickin Medal was established by PDSA founder Maria Dickin in 1943 for outstanding acts of bravery during military conflict.