President Joe Biden will award the prestigious Medal of Honor on Friday to retired Colonel Ralph Puckett Jr. for his “conspicuous gallantry” in the Korean War. The medal will be presented in a ceremony alongside South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, the White House announced Wednesday.
“Then-First Lieutenant Ralph Puckett, Jr. distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty, while serving as the Commander, 8th U.S. Army Ranger Company during the period of November 25, and 26, 1950, in Korea,” a statement from the White House read.
Puckett, who first enlisted in 1943, led his unit by “courageous example” and showed “extraordinary leadership” in battle, the statement said. During a daylight attack on an enemy hill, Puckett “intentionally ran across an open area three times to draw enemy fire,” allowing the Army Rangers to locate and destroy the enemy positions and seize the hill.
A counterattack that night left Puckett seriously wounded, with limited mobility. He ordered the Rangers to leave him and evacuate the area, but they felt “a sense of duty to aid him” and retrieved Puckett from a foxhole under enemy fire.
“Puckett’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service,” the White House said.
The Medal of Honor is the highest U.S. military honor awarded to members of the armed forces who displayed “great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life.”
Puckett retired from active duty in 1971 and was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 1992. He was also selected in 2004 as a Distinguished Graduate of The United States Military Academy, appointed as an Ambassador of Goodwill by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, and received the Infantry’s Doughboy Award in 2007.