U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Kurt Chew-Een Lee was the first U.S. Marine Corps officer of Chinese descent. During the Korean War, Lee, a Marine Corps Lieutenant back then, and his platoon were facing Chinese troops aiding the North Korean forces. He drew fire to himself and yelled phrased in Mandarin, confusing the enemy troops, which led to his unit’s victory despite being outnumbered. For his heroism, he received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and two purple hearts, and he passed away on March 3, 2014.
In the middle of the Korean War, this kitten found herself an orphan. Luckily, she found her way into the hands of Marine Sergeant Frank Praytor. He adopted the two-week-old kitten and gave her the name “Miss Hap” because, he explained, “she was born at the wrong place at the wrong time”. There’s a juxtaposition between the soldier and the human. He’s dressed for war but hasn’t lost the ability to care for another living creature.
A young Marine finds a moment of quiet and solitude in which to offer up a prayer for the safety of himself and his comrades. Minutes later, the 1st Marine Division launched an offensive against entrenched communist troops. ca 1951.
Warrior Wednesday: Meet Sgt. Reckless, a genuine war horse. For five days in March 1953, the little red mare came through for the U.S. Marines on the Korean front, making 51 deliveries of ammunition from the supply point to firing sites — deliveries that no one else could make. She carried 386 rounds– about five tons– 35 miles through rice paddies and up steep hills while enemy fire roared around her during the Battle of Outpost Vegas.
One of the Marines who fought alongside Reckless said years later that an angel must have been riding her that day. It was a miracle she survived.
The 13-hand Mongolian had moved from a Seoul racetrack to the Marines’ camp after a lieutenant had purchased her from a Korean boy for $250. Marines taught her to step over communication wires, lie down on command and kneel. A quick study, she was led a few times up and down to battle stations before she remembered the way and took the route alone.
Written accounts of the battles are vivid.
The savagery of the battle for the so-called Nevada Complex has never been equaled in Marine Corps history,” reads one account. This particular battle “was to bring a cannonading and bombing seldom experienced in warfare…28 tons of bombs and hundreds of the largest shells turned the crest of Vegas into a smoking, death-pocked rubble.
And Reckless was in the middle of it, exposed to enemy fire. She would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain to safety, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns. She also provided a shield for several Marines who were trapped trying to make their way up to the front line. Wounded twice, she didn’t let that stop or slow her down.
Her wartime service record was featured in The Saturday Evening Post, and LIFE magazine recognized her as one of America’s 100 all-time heroes. She was retired and brought to the United States after the war, where she made appearances on television and participated in the United States Marine Corps birthday ball. She was officially promoted to staff sergeant in 1959 by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. She gave birth to four foals in America and died in May 1968.
A statue of her was dedicated on July 26, 2013, along with a display in the Korean War section at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.
RED HOT: Three badass Marines light their smokes off a 50 caliber machine gun barrel that got red hot while firing at Red troops in central Korea. They are, left to right: Cpl. Charles E. Fritchman of China Lake, California, Pfc. James E. Hickman of Fort Worth, Texas, and Sgt. Donald MacGillivray, Chicago, Illinois. Ashland, Ohio, Times-Gazette. Monday Evening, May 7, 1951.
Women from the first all-female honor flight in the United Sates watch a Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Sept. 22, 2015, in Arlington, Va. There were 75 female veterans from World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War in attendance, as well as 75 escorts, who were also female veterans or active-duty military.
Sergeant Reckless, a chestnut mare who served in the U.S. military 63 years ago during the Korean War, has been honoured with the PDSA’s Dickin Medal. The award is the equivalent of the Victoria Cross for animals. Reckless lived to be 20 years old despite being wounded twice. She died in 1968.
Reckless was bred to be a racehorse. The Marine Corps bought her for $250 in October 1952. “Reckless” nickname because she carried ammo for the Recoilless Rifle, a gun so dangerous it was called the “reckless” rifle.
In the course of one five-day fight, 28 tons of bombs were dropped. The terrain of the battlefield was described by Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Geer as “smoking, death-pocked rubble.” In one day, Reckless made 51 trips during the Outpost Vegas battle in 1953. She carried more than 9,000 pounds of supplies and walked more than 35 miles in that one day alone.
Brian Hutton, the author, nominated the Mongolian mare for the award after he spent six years researching and writing her biography. According to Hutton, “she was loved by the Marines, they took care of her better than they took care of themselves, throwing their flak jackets over her when the incoming fire was heavy. Her relationship with the soldiers underscores the vital role of animals in war, not just for their prowess and strength in battle, but for the support and camaraderie they provide to their fellow troops. There is no knowing a number of lives she saved.” The ceremony was held at Victoria Embankment Gardens on Wednesday. Hidalgo, the horse, received the award on Reckless’ behalf.
Maria Dickin founded the PDSA animal charity and established the Dickin Medal in 1943 to highlight acts of bravery by animals in war. Most of the awards have gone to carrier pigeons.
Approximately 37,000 US and 1,000 British soldiers died in the Korean War. The war lasted from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953.
(Via War History Online)
U.S. Marine machine gunner Corporal Leonard Hayworth, 22 years old, weeps upon realizing that he and his men, who have taken heavy casualties, are out of ammunition. “His eyes swung searchingly along the edge of the ridge, then up into the rainy sky. Slow, heavy tears started down across his face.”
When it seemed that … machine-gunner Cpl Hayworth was shattered beyond all hope, a black-jawed, smiling old veteran crawled over … Sitting shoulder to shoulder with the younger man, he calmly told him how they were still holding the line … The grimy old veteran talked a feeble smile back upon the face of the corporal. Tears still streaked his face up under his helmet where the rain could not wash them away, but the Old Marine seemed not to notice. Korea, August 1950.“ (This Is War!)
Weeks after taking this picture, while still in Korea, David Douglas Duncan handed Hayworth a copy of the September 18, 1950, issue of LIFE in which the above photo appeared. “Hayworth looked at this huge picture of himself, in the biggest photo magazine in the world,” Duncan recalls. “He didn’t say anything. He just smiled. He looked like Errol Flynn, about 6-foot-3, a tall, handsome Marine. And no one’s saying anything, looking at this picture of him, crying, and an old sergeant behind him says, ‘We all cry sometimes.’ The next day, September 25th – the three-month anniversary of the start of the war – a sniper shot Corporal Hayworth between the eyes.”
Photo: David Douglas Duncan/LIFE