Dec. 1, 2016

Flame of the Morning

Flame of the Morning

This episode explores the bond between humans and horses through an unusual story from the middle of the twentieth century.

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In this first episode of a three-part story, we introduce you to a little horse whom the U.S. Marines acquired, named, trained, employed, and lived with, during the last months of the Korean War.

We trace the last wave of global decolonization; the effort of the United States to step into the void left by the collapsing colonial powers and assert global dominance; and millennia of human cohabitation with equines: breeding, selection, training, and the rise of human civilizations based on what their horses enabled them to do.

In this story, we also get a sense of how much has changed in U.S. culture over the last 60 years since the Marines chose this horse as their comrade-in-arms. In the 1950s, it was still common to find experienced horsemen in the U.S. military, and they played an important role in the events as they happened. We can speculate about the horse’s genetics and breeding, which by themselves draw a map of world history. This little red native Korean mare, the size of a pony, had a heart as big as the one of national legends like Man o’ War or Secretariat.

Listen as Abby tells the story of how this young horse met some young Marines, and formed a bond that would not be broken.

Sources for this episode


Barrett, J. (2013). They Called Her Reckless - A True Story of War, Love And One Extraordinary Horse. Tall Cedar Books, Chester, CT. Available in print and Kindle versions from

Clavin, T. (2015). Reckless: The Racehorse Who Became a Marine Corps Hero. Penguin, New York, NY. Available in print and Kindle versions from

Geer, A. (1955). Reckless, Pride of the Marines. E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., N.Y. Available in print and Kindle versions from, as well as a free pdf download from

Hutton, R. (2014) Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse. Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C. Available from to read in print or Kindle format, or as an audiobook in Audible format

Documents retrieved from the Internet:

Walt, L. (1953). Korean War Project Record: USMC-2249 CD: 22 (United States Marine Corps Unit Name: 1st Marine Division Records Group: RG 127) United States Marine Corps History Division, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. Retrieved through Korean War Project (Hal Barker, Ed.) Dallas, TX on 17 November 2016

General link to the Marine Corps command diaries:
(n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2016, from

More specifically, Reckless is mentioned in the Command Diaries of March 1953:
Barker, H. (n.d.). Command Diaries March 1953. Retrieved December 29, 2016, from

On horse racing in Korea:
(n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2016, from

On the history of the Ferghana horse in East Asia:
(n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2016, from

On the genetic evidence of the Ferghana importation from Mongolia:
Kim, K.-1I., Yang, Y.-H., Lee, S.-S., Park, C., Ma, R., Bouzat, J. L. and Lewin, H. A. (1999), Phylogenetic relationships of Cheju horses to other horse breeds as determined by mtDNA D-loop sequence polymorphism. Animal Genetics, 30: 102–108. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2052.1999.00419.x

Photo credits:

Department of Defense images, unless otherwise noted, are in the public domain.


Ricky Bloxsom, Visual Design and Website Development
Lanin's Southern Serenaders, "Shake It and Break It", Antique Phonograph Recording
Christian Gundermann, Show Notes
Beth Linnetz, Quality Review
Janet Barrett, Historical Details

Content Critique Team:

Ali Bloxsom
Anna Bloxsom
Amanda Winer