Before a race, Kim (age 22) saw young Flame spinning around in a free-spirited prance entertaining onlookers, just like his mother, and Kim was once-again smitten with a horse named Flame. At that point, three dogs started to attack young Flame, and they were momentarily distracted by Kim's yelling, and young Flame broke free, sprinting towards Kim.
Kim threw himself between Flame and the dogs, kicking one of them away. When the dogs finally backed off, Flame nuzzled Kim while he stroked the frightened horse, calming her down. Kim put Flame in the same stall that his mother had used, and the younger Flame became the center of Kim's life. Flame was two years old, and Kim started training her to be a successful (and profitable) racehorse.
During June 1950, Kim worked hard to get Flame ready for her racing debut, but Flame's racing career was not to be. On the very day Flame was to make her racing debut, North Korea invaded South Korea, and Kim and his family headed towards Pusan. Flame pulled a cart with the family's belongings and some family members. Flame learned to swim when the family caravan reached a river. Flame crossed the river multiple times, taking family members across, exhausting herself doing so.
At Pusan, Kim and Flame unloaded American ships, hauling military supplies to huge depots. In the spring of 1952, Flame was once again hitched to a cart, and the family headed back to Seoul. On their return, they saw a city in ruin, but Kim and Flame were fortunate in that they found work hauling rice from fields to US warehouses.
One of Kim's friends was badly hurt due to a landmine in a rice paddy, and Kim vowed to find enough money to help his friend get an artificial leg. After a day's work in October 1952, Kim took Flame to the racetrack to gallop and prance around. As Kim and Flame were about ready to leave the stables, four U.S. soldiers drove up in a jeep with an trailer . . . Flame's life was about to change.
The 5th Marine Recoilless Rifle Platoon couldn't hide their position when firing, so after 4 or 5 shells were fired, the 75mm was moved to another spot, which further confounded the enemy. The 5th Marine Recoilless Rifle Platoon would "leapfrog" after firing; after the primary gun moved to another location, a secondary 75mm would begin firing, and the process would be repeated. "Leapfrogging" denied the enemy the ability to concentrate their fire on specific positions, but there was as much as 500 yards between guns.
The rifle and ammunition (75mm shells) would need to be hauled by Marines on foot, and there would be the need for "repeat runs" to resupply the firing positions. Also, since the shells were designed ready-to-fire, dropping one would mean an almost certain explosion, with dead or badly wounded Marines. The distance from the ammunition to the firing location was about half-a-mile, but it was a treacherous trip which featured barbed wire, a rice paddy dike, a seven foot ditch, and then a steep climb to the ridge, all in perilous view of the enemy.
Lt. Pedersen was eventually advised to try the racetrack in Seoul. Kim was rubbing down Flame when Lt. Pedersen, who loved horses, appeared with his trailer and men. Lt. Pedersen had a good eye for horses, and Flame was the 5th horse that Pedersen inspected. Lt. Pedersen saw that Flame had an "intelligent eye", and a "fine head", which reminded him of his childhood horse. Lt. Pedersen approached Flame, and Flame wasn't in the least bit frightened; in fact, Flame moved towards Lt. Pedersen.
When Pedersen (after just a bit of haggling) offered $250 in US dollars for Flame, Kim knew that he had enough money for an artificial leg for his best friend, Choi, who was there as well, assisting Kim. Kim had a private goodbye with his beloved horse, and when the Marines left, Kim wept alone in the now Flame-less stall.