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Medal Of Honor Recipient, Korean War Veteran Dead At 97

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Retired Army Colonel Ralph Puckett, who received the Medal of Honor for his lifesaving heroics in the Korean War and the Distinguished Service Cross for his service in Vietnam, passed away this week at the age of 97.

Puckett passed away peacefully in his sleep, alongside his wife Jeannie, at their home in Columbus, Georgia. The National Infantry Museum, located at nearby Fort Moore, where Ralph worked mentoring soldiers for several decades, is holding a public service in his honor on April 20 at 11 a.m.

The towns mayor released a statement following Puckett’s passing.

Today we mourn the loss of a national hero, Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Ralph Puckett. Colonel Puckett lived the Army Values every day of his life. He was one of our Country’s most decorated veterans but was known for his humility and selfless service. He was a mentor to generations of Soldiers passing through Fort Benning/Moore. Colonel Puckett earned his Medal of Honor for saving countless members of his company while participating in one of the most ferocious battles of the Korean War. His life brings to mind Isaiah 6:8 – Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am, Send me!” Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Jeannie and the entire Puckett family.

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Pucket enlisted in the army in 1943, which led to his selection to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.In 1949, Puckett graduated from West Point, earning his commission as an infantry officer. Shortly after his graduation, Ralph volunteered for service with the Army’s 8th Ranger Company. Puckett was selected to command the company as a first lieutenant and was eventually sent to Korea in late 1950. He was tasked with assaulting and securing a piece of land known as Hill 205.

During this mission, Puckett first demonstrated his heroic behavior. Despite being outnumbered by the enemy 10 to one, Puckett and his men successfully secured the hill. They faced repeated assaults by Chinese forces, with Ralph bravely risking his life multiple times to draw enemy fire away from his fellow Rangers. He also called in artillery strikes and maintained the perimeter through six assaults in just four hours.

After sustaining at least three serious wounds, Puckett ordered his men to leave him and retreat to safety. However, his men fought their way to him and evacuated him to safety. While Puckett was initially only awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second-highest medal of battlefield valor, he received the Medal of Honor in 2021 from President Joe Biden.

After returning from Korea, the Army offered Ralph a medical retirement. However, Puckett refused and chose to continue his service, working at the Ranger School before completing special forces training. Puckett deployed to Vietnam as a 101st Airborne Division battalion commander, where he would earn even more medals signifying his battlefield heroics.

Before retiring in 1971, Ralph accumulated two Distinguished Service Crosses, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars with acombat “V” device for valor, and five Purple Hearts.

Rest in peace!

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