-- U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Reckless received a posthumous award this week in London. But Reckless was not a person; she was a horse.
The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), a British animal charity, awarded Reckless the Dickin Medal — the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, the highest British military decoration for valor — for her service in 1952 and 1953 during the Korean War.
U.S. Embassy attaché Lieut. Col. Michael Skaggs accepted the award on behalf of the U.S. Marine Corps, since Reckless passed away in 1968 in Camp Pendleton, California. "The conditions that Reckless found herself in were truly perilous, and her bravery and tenacity to push forward was remarkable,” he said in a statement.
American author Robin Hutton spent six years researching the Mongolian chestnut mare's service with the U.S. Marines, wrote a book about her life and nominated her for the British award. "Her story was erased from the pages of history," Hutton told ABC News, "and when I heard about the medal, I just knew she had to get it."
Reckless was purchased from a young Korean man in October of 1952 to be trained as an ammunition carrier for the anti-tank division of the 5th Marines. She was taught battlefield survival skills, such as how not to become entangled in barbed wire and to lie down when under fire, according to the PDSA.
During a five-day battle in 1953, Reckless made 51 trips from an ammunition supply point to firing sites. "She carried 386 rounds of ammunition, weighing over 9,000 pounds ... up steep mountains with enemy fire coming in at a rate of 500 rounds per minute," a PDSA statement said.
"She would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain to safety, unload them and get reloaded with ammunition to go back up to the guns. Although wounded twice, she didn't let it stop her or slow her down," the PDSA added. "There's no way to account for the number of lives she saved."