Lexington, Kentucky; May 12, 2018: Hundreds of Marines and Friends of the Corps gathered on a grassy knoll at the Kentucky Horse Park, to dedicate a magnificent larger-than-life 1,000 pound bronze statue memorializing the valor of SSgt Reckless, a small Mongolian mare with a racing background in her native country, who became a national hero while serving in combat during the Korean War, after she was purchased by Marines to carry ammunition for the 75mm Recoilless Rifle Platoon. The dedication followed a more than two-year effort by Marine Corps veterans and private citizens to raise money nationwide to place the statue at the Kentucky Horse Park. Although SSgt Reckless has been recognized with similar bronze statues at both Camp Pendleton (California) and the National Museum of the Marine Corps (Virginia), it was the vision of James E. “Ted” Bassett III, a Marine Corps combat veteran of World War II and former president and chairman of the Keeneland Association, that she be memorialized at the Kentucky Horse Park. During the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March 1953, SSgt Reckless made 51 trips up to the gun sites – most of the time by herself – and carried more than 9,000 pounds of ammunition on her back. Wounded twice, she never stopped. She also evacuated wounded and dead from the battlefield, and quickly earned the love and respect of all the Marines who served with her. It was truly a great moment for both the Corps and Kentucky, and the Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Kentucky (MCCCK) is so very grateful to all who contributed their talent, time and treasure, to bring this statue to Kentucky. The dedication ceremony, featured a Marine Corps color guard from Alpha Company, 4th Law Enforcement Battalion, Marine Corps Reserve, Lexington, Kentucky; an unveiling of the statue by five Korean War veterans who served with SSgt Reckless in Korea, plus a guest speaker, Sgt. Harold Wadley, USMC (Ret), who saw her in action during her most heroic battle. Additional speakers included Ted Bassett; Robin Hutton, author of the book “Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse;” and Jocelyn Russell, sculptor of the statue. Music was provided by the Dixieland South Band, and an original theme song “Oorah Reckless” was sung by Nashville country music artist, Templeton Thompson. MCCCK provided logistical and funding support for this project and for the dedication ceremony, during which Laura Prewitt, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park, commented “We are so honored to be custodians of this beautiful monument and monumental legacy of a horse small in stature, but big in courage. SSgt. Reckless epitomizes everything great about horses and our relationship with them.” There was extensive news media coverage of this event, which can be accessed through the Internet, to include photographs. Much has and will be said about this memorable moment in our rich history of Marine Corps tradition in Kentucky, of which we are all justifiably proud, but we wanted to share with you some of the comments made by our chairman, James E. “Ted” Bassett III, who led the effort to bring SSgt Reckless to Kentucky, as we welcome her spirit into our Kentucky Marine family. We can all learn something from SSgt Reckless.
“Reckless will always be remembered, respected and revered by the Marine Corps for her overwhelming desire to achieve, and her unlimited will to overcome all obstacles . She was a legend. Fierce determination, undaunted courage, zest to succeed and defiance of danger – never flinching, never retreating, while always embracing the Marine Corps code: never giving up.”