Friday, March 10, 2017

Tucson, AZ - Sgt Reckless - write a bit to end

Not every museum is a great museum or even a really good museum. But there’s always something to learn or something to enjoy. Today we visited one of these: the Museum of the Horse Soldier. Sounded pretty good with loads of history and lots to learn. Unfortunately, it was not as good as we had hoped. It had lots of artifacts and lots of uniforms on Horse Soldiers throughout the west. But, that’s where it stopped Lots of artifacts, a dearth of explanation about them. For example, we had looked at a whole case of mannequins in uniforms but, when another visitor who knew lots about the cavalry, asked about one of the uniforms, we rushed over to hear the explanation. This was the uniform of a Native American Scout. OK. That’s the explanation that I would have liked to be near the uniform itself.



On the other hand, we did learn the story of Sgt. Reckless - a pretty cool story and very unusual.


It was during the Korean War when American troops were fighting in Korea. She was bought for $250 by Lt Eric Pedersen from a young Korean boy, Kim Huk Room at the Seoul Race Track in Korea. The only reason that Kim sold Ah Him Hai, his ‘Flame of the Morning’ was because he needed money to buy an artificial leg for his older sister who had lost her leg in a land mine incident.

Not as a mascot, but because his unit desperately needed help hauling heavy guns and artillery over Korea’s rugged terrain. Trucks simply couldn’t negotiate the steep, rutted mountains, especially in frigid, icy conditions. Pedersen realized a horse would make the ideal ammunitions carrier.

Because it had no wheels and sat on a tripod, the 75 recoilless rifle, at 6-feet-10 inches long and weighing nearly 115 pounds, was awkward and challenging to carry; moving it in the field usually required three and at times four men, though sometimes two could manage. It could throw a 75 mm shell several thousand yards with extreme precision.

Here she is being trained to not spook with the sound of fire. She also learned to head for cover when she heard the words: ‘incoming, incoming.’


Her finest hour came during the Battle of Outpost Vegas in Arch of 1953 when she made countless trips across ‘no man’s land’ and up a 45-degree mountain trails to bring ammunition to an outpost under heavy fire. One day alone she made 51 trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites, 95% of the time all by herself. She carried 386 rounds of ammunition, over 9000 lbs. almost 5 tons, walked over 35 miles through rice paddies and up the steep mountains with incoming enemy fire. Then, she would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain to safety, unload them and head back up the mountains with a new load of ammunition.

Here’s Reckless with her trainer, TSgt. Latham.


REckless did other things besides carrying ammunition into battle and wounded Marines out to safety. She was a demon at string communications wire. They fastened wire reels to her pack and play it our as she walked along. She could string more telephone wire in a day than a dozen Marines. She carried rations, bedrolls, grenades - anything that needed carrying.

Twice she was wounded in battle but kept finished her mission. She was decorated with 2 Purple Hearts, a Good Conduct Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation, a National Defense Medal and a Korean Service Medal - etc, etc., etc.

But, it was her stomach and appetite by which she was best known. She would eat anything in sight but she especially loved her pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast with her coffee in the morning. On later occasions Reckless ate bacon and buttered toast with her scrambled eggs. She also loved cake, Hershey bars, candy form the C rations, Coca Cola and even poker chips. One night she reached over one of the Marine’s shoulder, grabbed a few chips and downed them. It was estimated that she ate $30 worth of chips that night. Her favorite pastime was drinking beer with her Marines.

The rule was: don’t leave her alone with your food.


On Aug. 31, 1959, Reckless was promoted to staff sergeant by her good friend Gen Pate in a ceremony attended by the 5th Marines, friends and her two sons, Fearless and Dauntless. The 21st Commandant, Gen Pate, earlier had written: "In my career I have seen many animals that have been adopted by Marines, but never in all my experience have I seen one which won the hearts of so many as did. . .Reckless."

She was retired on Nov. 10, 1960, with full military honors, according to an article in The San Diego Union. The article also stated that Gen David M. Shoup, then-Commandant of the Marine Corps, had issued this order: "SSgt Reckless will be provided quarters and messing at the Camp Pendleton Stables in lieu of retired pay."

On May 13, 1968, the Corps lost a dear friend with the passing away of SSgt Reckless. Some reports state she was 19 and others say 20 when she was injured and had to be put to sleep.



Dinner. Well, we decided that we were right next to one of the iconic steakhouses in Tucson, the Pinnacle Peak, and we ought to go there. Big mistake. We shared a hamburg which came with beans and a salad. The beans were tasteless, the salad was right out of a bag with a tomoto and some croutons thrown on top, the bun was so dry that it obscured the taste of the hamburg - what’s left? Not much. But the place was packed. It seems as if every Tucsonian brings their out-of-town friends and relatives here, every office party ends up here and every family reunion ends up here. There were tables for 22 and 19 in our room which had no tables empty when we left. We must just be out of step. Or did they have different beans and salad? Beats me but we sure don’t need to go there again. We should have gone to In-N-Out.

Home then.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tucson, AZ - Fort Lowell

Several days ago, I dusted and vacuumed the inside of he RV so thoroughly that I twisted my back. No hiking for this old lady so it must be off to another museum, Fort Lowell. Small museum but they had a lot of items there not only describing life as a soldier at the fort but also the life of kids and women who lived there.

Originally the fort was established as a permanent post near downtown Tucson in 1866. However, there were too many temptations in town and the fort commander moved it further away from town in 1873. The troops escorted wagon trains, protected settlers, patrolled the borders, guarded depot supplies, served as a major supply depot for southern AZ posts and conducted offensive operations against the Western and Chiricahua Native Americans. Sounds like a heavy load but there was lots of down time.

Troop strength averaged 150 officers and enlisted men. Peak strength reached in 1886 during the Geronimo Campaign was 257. When the Apache Wars ended, the Army saw no further need for Fort Lowell. Tucson rallied to save the post but on Feb 14 (Valentines Day) 1891 the last soldiers left the fort and it was decommissioned and abandoned. Since 1963 the AZ Historical Society has operated a museum at the fort site and has rebuilt several of the buildings. There are still several walls left from the original buildings. This is a corner of the band building.

The fort hospital was the largest ruin still standing.
with some adobe bricks inside.
The only women who could be at the fort officially were the laundresses and the wives of the officers.
When the built the post, the ceilings were strips of linen tacked to the adobe. Unfortunately, lots of little insects, birds, bats, etc. got in here and when you slept, you could hear them and see them running across the linen. OMG, I just hope they don’t fall. Here’s what it looked like when you were in bed looking up. Oh, yeah, there were some leaks in the ceilings.
Meals differed between the enlisted men and the officers. On the right is an officer’s meal while on the left is an enlisted man’s meal. Beans, hardtack and bacon jerky. Sometimes soft bread. No wonder they got sick.
Here’s my favorite picture from the fort. Note how the cameraman got all faces visible.
Here’s the menu. Where are the veggies, the fruit?
Here’s how they ground their coffee while out in the field - beat it to death in a sock. Clean or dirty sock? Don’t even ask.

Here’s an enlisted man’s personal items. Now, what, pray tell, is ‘Medicated Paper?’ Want to take a guess?
Well, it’s better than a corncob or a leaf or whatever was readily available.

For many years Americans employed the readily available pages of the popular Sears Catalog. It came free in the mail and even had a handy hole in the corner to make it hang easily on a nail in the outhouse. It wasn’t until 1857 that Joseph Gayetty began selling “medicated paper” made of hemp with added aloe. Proud of his invention, Gayetty had his own name printed on every sheet.

Outshining Gayetty’s product, was the invention of toilet paper on a roll, popularized by two brothers in 1890. They declined to put their name on any part of it, however, and just sold the product directly to hotels and drugstores.

There were several officers wives and children who lived here.
The soldiers had many scouts from a rival tribe to the Chiricahua’s led by Geronimo. They were promised their freedom but got nothing. In fact, when they were out helping the soldiers in the campaigns, their families were being moved to Florida with Geronimo’s tribe.

Interesting visit and the AZ Historical Society has put together a good collection of items from this period.

But, we’ve got to get in our 4 miles and the nearby wash trail looks like a possibility.
Cool hummingbird in a tree. I didn’t think they stopped long enough for me to ever get a picture of one.
Both Gary and I remember the wash with water in it the last time we were in Tucson. Today, there was little. You could look ‘upstream’ and see none
and then look ‘downstream’ and see just a little.
We thought this was an artsy bench but I tried sitting on it and it is no bench. Cool, artistic rendering of a river in the nearby park.