Col. Ralph Puckett, Jr. Receives Medal of Honor 70 After the Fact

Heroism, of the kind that is recognized by the awarding of the Medal of Honor (MOH), is, by its very nature, far above and beyond the call to duty. There is no lack of courage, of course, in anyone who has gone to war, anyone who has met the enemy on the field of battle and endured the terrors of combat. This kind of courage is already beyond that which is required by most men or women in everyday life, but those who are awarded the MOH are held in great esteem, even awe, by those who were there, those who witnessed valor and selflessness that seems almost beyond description. Such was the courage of then 1st Lt. Ralph Puckett, Jr. on a battlefield in Korea 70 years ago.

Recently, now long-ago-retired Col. Puckett was awarded the MOH by President Biden at the White House. This video is from that ceremony. In it, you will hear what this man did for his fellow Rangers in their efforts against the enemy at Hill 205 in the frigid November cold over two days, from the 25th of November to the 26th of November, 1950, early in the Korean War.

At the time of the action, Puckett was awarded the second-highest award for valor on the field of battle, the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). But when you hear the Medal of Honor citation being read during this short video, you will see why, even these 70 years later, his actions were worthy of the MOH.

Photo: YouTube/The Hill

On the days in question, Puckett was a 1st Lt. not that long out of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He was commanding a unit of the 8th U.S. Army Ranger Regiment when they became engaged in a fierce battle with a massive force of Chinese troops. This was a full-scale battle involving heavy artillery and mortar fire as well as several human wave charges by the enemy—six in total.

During this time, 1st Lt. Puckett’s actions were conspicuously valorous, from climbing on top of a tank and directing fire and encouraging his men, to running over open ground three times, under intense enemy fire, so that his men could accurately determine where the fire was coming from and address their own fire more accurately against the enemy.

Photo: YouTube/The Hill

During the first human wave attack, Puckett was wounded for a second time when mortars landed near him. He was more seriously wounded this time, but he kept fighting and directing his men. There were four more massive human wave charges by the enemy, but, each time, Puckett and his men held the line and pushed the enemy back.

When the enemy charged again a sixth time, he knew that he and his men, exhausted and low on ammo and supplies, were going to be overwhelmed. He ordered his men to leave him behind, wounded as he was, and to withdraw. His men would have none of this. They would not leave their commander who had fought so gallantly and so fiercely on their behalf. They pulled together and fought the enemy off until they could get Puckett out of there with them.

Photo: YouTube/The Hill

Puckett remained in the Army, specifically with the Rangers. He would serve again in Vietnam with his beloved Rangers and would be awarded another Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Silver Stars, 2 Bronze Stars with “V” devices, and ultimately 5 Purple Hearts. This man’s level of courage and commitment to duty and, most importantly, to his men, is clearly impressive.

Please join the Veterans Site in congratulating Col. Ralph Puckett, Jr. on receiving this Medal of Honor, which is upgraded from his Korean War Distinguished Service Cross. The Medal of Honor is clearly the appropriate level of award for what this man did those seven decades ago in the snowy cold of those late November days in Korea in 1950.

1st Lt. Pucket, as honorary commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, you modeled the motto of the regiment with your life both on the field of battle and in the rest of your service to the nation: “Sua Sponte” (Of Their Own Accord)

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