SANTA ANA -- Southern California Marines have fond memories of a scrawny mare called Reckless, who served in the Korean War and earned two Purple Hearts, taking shrapnel and saving soldiers like other American war heroes.
The Orange County Register reports (http://bit.ly/12RoavG) the horse was honored with a monument Friday at Virginia's National Museum of the Marine Corps in time to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the war's end.
The horse earned the rank of Staff Sgt. after being purchased from a local boy for $250 to help carry 115-pound anti-tank rifles and their 24-pound shells.
Reckless carried ammunition and saved Marines' lives. She earned her stripes after the battle for Vegas Hill, which raged for three days.
Retired Sgt. Harold Wadley, 79, saw Reckless charging through the smoke.
"Going up the ridge, in and out of view, was this little mare. I tell you, her silhouette in all the smoke -- I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought, 'Good grief. It's Reckless!'" Wadley told the Register.
That day, Reckless carried wounded and dead Marines down from the battlefield. At one time, she shielded four Marines on the trail. She was wounded by shrapnel twice that day.
When Robin Hutton, 58, of Ventura County, visited the place where Reckless had been buried at Camp Pendleton she found the area had since been built over and vowed to preserve her memory.
Hutton raised $45,000 and borrowed $55,000 and convinced the National Museum of the Marine Corps to install the monument. On Friday, she watched the dedication with more than 3,000 Marines and Korean War veterans.