Sergeant Reckless

Music & Lyrics: Marie-Lynn Hammond

The true story of a real little mare. Her tale was almost forgotten, but she’s been rediscovered recently. Written from the point of view of a fictional Korean veteran. Special thanks to Harold Wadley, a former Marine who remembers her fondly and who gave me the idea for the chorus.

It was sixty years ago today I shipped out to Korea,
a rancher’s kid from Arizona, still in my teens
and my story’s worth a listen, ’cause I served with Sergeant Reckless
a real unlikely soldier, but the pride of the Marines

She was from the racetrack down in Seoul, a small Mongolian mare
we named her for the rifle* that would help us win the day
and we trained that horse to carry ammunition to the gun crew
and she earned her stripes** for the courage that she showed along the way

Oh there must have been an angel riding Reckless through the fire
to save her from the bullets and the shrapnel flyin’ round             

Reckless & two Marines

And every time we saw that mare, we felt our spirits risin’
oh little Sergeant Reckless helped us all to stand our ground

And on the first day of our battle to recapture outpost Vegas
that mare made over fifty trips through rugged, steep terrain
at first I’d lead her to the guns, and then she’d do it solo
and each time we changed positions, she’d just learn the way again

 Nine thousand pounds of ammo she delivered to the gunners
on that day, and then she carried out the casualties of war
and twice she came back bleeding, but Reckless was no quitter
so we cleaned her cuts, and she turned around and headed out once more


And Reckless kept us laughing with her antics and her appetite
from scrambled eggs to whiskey, there was nothing she’d refuse
and seeking warmth on winter nights, she’d creep into our tents
and all us leathernecks would let her, ’cause that gal had paid her dues

And when the war was over, there’s no way we could leave her
as a decorated veteran, she deserved the very best
so when we shipped her stateside, she received a hero’s welcome
and retired to Camp Pendleton – lord knows she’d earned her rest

And now that I’m old man, I sometimes get to wonderin’
if every war is really worth all the blood and death and pain
But still I’d give most anything to see my long-lost buddies
and to stroke that little white-faced sorrel mare again


Yeah, every time I saw that mare, I felt my spirits risin’
oh little Sergeant Reckless, she sure helped me stand my ground


*The recoilless rifle, nicknamed the “reckless” rifle.
**The mare was officially given the rank of sergeant by the Marine corps and later promoted to staff sergeant.