A True Warhorse . . . - The Missourian: Columns

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A True Warhorse . . .

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Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 6:32 pm

Wars produce heroes and unusual events, many of them reported and others that fall into the untold category. USA Today reported on one of the unusual stories of the Korean War. It is a timely story since the 60th anniversary of the cease-fire in the Korean War (1950-53) will be observed this Saturday, July 27. The cease-fire came on July 27, 1953.

The story by Kimberly Railey is about Staff Sgt. Reckless, a Korean horse that “joined” the Marine Corps. The Marines acquired the horse in 1952 from a young Korean boy, Kim Huk Moon, who needed money to pay for an artificial leg for his older sister. The horse quickly was “trained” to carry ammunition to frontline Marines.

In the battle of Outpost Vegas in 1953, the horse made 51 trips in one day along a mountainside to reach the Marines’ firing positions. The horse brought wounded Marines to safety and to aid stations. The horse was wounded twice. According to a memorial website dedicated to S/Sgt. Reckless, the horse traveled up and down the rugged terrain by herself.

A monument depicting S/Sgt. Reckless has been installed at Semper Fidelis Park at Triangle, Va., just in time for the July 27 anniversary. It’s a life-size monument. The park is adjacent to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The president and CEO of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Lt. Gen. Robert Blackman, said S/Sgt. Reckless may have been the last horse to play a major role in a battle in a war, according to USA Today.

The horse and the Marines developed a close bond. They would feed her rations and drape their flak jackets over her to protect her and give her some comfort. The story did not relate what happened to S/Sgt. Reckless after the war.

We did see a horse on the frontlines in Korea, but under entirely different circumstances. The cease-fire went into effect at 10 p.m. the night of July 27, 1953. For the most part, the firing did stop at 10 p.m. However, in the sector where we were, from our outpost, we had a good view of “no man’s land,” the newly created DMZ (demilitarize zone) where an American outfit, the Triple Nickel, 555th Field Artillery, had been overrun. That zone was supposed to be off limits to both sides.

The Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) violated the cease-fire agreement by entering that zone to steal the 555th’s artillery pieces the morning of July 28. At one point in their stealing, the Chinese were trying to pull a 105 howitzer that was stuck in some mud. Enter a large white horse they had. They used the horse to help pull the 105 out of the mud and steal that weapon. Since the Americans were playing by the rules not to fire, all they could do was watch the stealing activity. It was humorous.

Just a couple of horse stories. You can bet your wife’s wedding ring that there is no monument to that white horse in North Korea. In fact, they probably ended up eating the horse!

/opinion/columns