Adding to Latham's frustrations was that with new Marines arriving, the long-standing rule that nobody rides Reckless was ignored. During the day, Reckless had the run of the camp, but at night she was guarded by four Marines due to a rumor that she would be kidnapped for food. Reckless found a way to cut herself on barbed wire, and she needed stitches and bandages around her ear and head. Reckless was bady cut up, but she received top-notch veterinary care from her now-changing herd of fellow Marines. The stitches dissolved, and the bandages came off soon enough, but Reckless wound up with an ear that had a little notch on top
During February 1954, the official announcement that Reckless was promoted to a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps occurred. Her fellow Marines paid $51 for a specially designed blanket for Reckless to show her stripes and honors-earned in the Korean War during the ceremony.
On 10 April 1954, Reckless was officially promoted to sergeant by Major General Randolph Pate (who would soon become the 21st Commander of the U.S. Marine Corps). Pate pinned the stripes on Reckless' (slightly chewed) blanket; shortly afterwards a whole new blanket with stripes was placed on Reckless.
Reckless' military honors were as follows: 2 Purple Hearts, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation With Star, the Navy Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, and the United Nations Service Medal.
The four-page spread with photos caused a sensation, and letters poured in wanting to know when Reckless would come to the U.S. Lt. Pedersen was quoted that he thought Reckless deserved rotation to the U.S., but the "rotation question" took months to be answered.
The Navy offered transport, but not without official paperwork for Reckless, a handler, and feed. Due to the Saturday Evening Post article, "Operation Bring Reckless Home" began. A formal request was made asking that Reckless be assigned permanent duty at Camp Pendleton (just north of San Diego). But, of course, bureaucrats were a problem; these isolated military and government workers didn't want Reckless to have a "free ride", courtesy of the American taxpayer.
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Geer called a family friend that worked for Pacific Tranport Lines, and the company arranged to bring Reckless to the U.S. free-of-charge. In exchange for the free voyage, the company wanted the Marines to provide a stall, feed, and a handler. The Marines had three weeks to deliver Reckless to Yokohama, Japan, where the SS Pacific Transport was scheduled to depart on 22 October 1954.
Pedersen was contacted by the SS Pacific Transport with an update about Reckless. The good news was that Reckless was eating again after being seasick (and almost being swept overboard in a storm). The bad news was that she ate her special "Sergeant Blanket". A press conference was set for 9 am on 9 November 1954 to cover the arrival of Reckless to the U.S., and Geer wanted Reckless to have a blanket with all her honors on display for the media to see.
Geer found a very cooperative saddlery in San Francisco, and the company went above-and-beyond free-of-charge making a blanket, as did the companies that did the lettering and ribbons on the blanket. Kay Pedersen (wife of Lt. Pedersen) managed to sew the stripes and ribbons in place on the blanket just when the call came that the SS Pacific Transport was about to dock.
On 10 November 1954, Reckless was prepped, glistening, and beautiful, ready to be presented to the media on board the ship. An added benefit was that Reckless absolutely loved attention; for more than an hour, Reckless posed with Marines for the media, happily munching carrots. Soon enough, Reckless let Pedersen know that she had become bored with the proceedings. Reckless was put in an unloading stall with Pedersen, and the two Marines were lowered by a winch to the dock. When Pedersen opened the stall door, Reckless was on U.S. soil and greeted with the kind of fanfare that a great war hero deserved.
Reckless was escorted to a gala in her honor at the Marine's Memorial Club and Hotel in San Francisco. Organized 1945, the Club was a living memorial, paying tribute to heroic Marines, both living or killed-in-action. Skeptics in the media didn't think Reckless could ride in an elevator, but in Reckless went, and she rode to the 10th floor in the freight elevator to the banquet dinner in the main dining room. 400+ Marines awaited Reckless in the banquet hall, and the keynote speaker was Lt. Col. Andrew Geer.
Geer regaled the Marines with how Reckless went from a Korean racehorse to a Marine Hero. While Geer was speaking, Reckless decided to enjoy the two-foot high anniversary cake. After eating the cake, Reckless then enjoyed the carnation and rose centerpieces on some of the tables. After dinner, Reckless went to the 11th floor for the 179th Anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps dance plus official cake-cutting ceremony.
On 11 November 1954, Reckless took her "Victory Tour" to the Cow Palace, giving one of her greatest strutting, whirling, and prancing performances. Then Reckless was taken to the very exclusive men-only Bohemian Club. Reckless was the first female to ever enter the Cartoon Room of the Bohemian Grove, the beyond-exclusive organization of incredibly powerful and influential men. After the Bohemian Grove, it was time for Reckless to be loaded on her trailer, and travel to her new home at Camp Pendleton . . .
Epilogue: Reckless at Camp Pendleton . . .
Below: a much longer (& better) documentary on Sgt. Reckless . . .