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Have Any Animals Become War Heroes?

One of the heroes of the Korean War had a thankless job. In the mountainous area along the border between North and South Korea, combat consisted mainly of volleys from ridgelines with 75mm recoilless rifles -- deadly from long distances. The shells for these guns weighed 20 pounds (9 kg) each, and had to be lugged up the hills. That job went to a horse named Reckless, a 3-year-old filly purchased at a Seoul race track for $250 USD. She was trained in the ways of war and initially given the rank of private first class in the U.S. Marine Corps. After a heroic tour of duty in which she displayed uncommon valor, she retired as a staff sergeant -- the only animal ever to hold an official rank in the U.S. military.

Just one of the guys:

  • Reckless was a Mongolian horse whose mother might have been a thoroughbred. Lt. Eric Pedersen, commander of the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, purchased the horse from a stable boy who wanted the money in order to buy his sister an artificial leg.
  • After training as a pack horse, Reckless roamed freely through the camp, even sleeping in a tent on cold nights. She’d eat anything, including scrambled eggs, beer, Coca-Cola, and, once, about $30 USD worth of poker chips.
  • Reckless excelled during the Battle for Outpost Vegas. For three days, she hauled ammunition -- by herself -- and carried wounded soldiers to safety. She was wounded twice, and honored with two Purple Hearts.

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