After 70 Years, Ranger Legend and Korean War Veteran Ralph Puckett Receives Medal of Honor

Korean War Veteran standing next to a military vehicle

Korean War veteran Col. Ralph Puckett, Jr. was honored at the White House on Friday. He received the Medal of Honor for his acts of “conspicuous gallantry” during the war. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is in town to conduct diplomatic talks with President Biden, attended the ceremony.

The former soldier is being honored for his heroism on Nov. 25 and 26 in 1950. As a young lieutenant, he led 51 Army Rangers and nine Korean soldiers to seize a key hill overlooking the Chongchon River in what is now North Korea.

Retired Army Colonel Ralph Puckett waited more than 70 years to receive the nation’s highest award for combat valor. And when he got word that he’d be presented with the Medal of Honor, he questioned why the White House would go to all the trouble of presenting it to him.

“I understand that your first response to us hosting this event was to ask ‘why all the fuss … can’t they just mail it to me?'”

Your lifetime of service to our nation…

“Col. Puckett, after 70 years rather than mail it to you I would have walked it to you,” Biden said. “Your lifetime of service to our nation I think deserves a little bit of fuss.”President Joe Biden quipped at Friday’s presentation ceremony. “I’m incredibly proud to give Col. Ralph Puckett’s acts of valor the full recognition they have always deserved.”

In late November 1950, Puckett found himself and his platoon facing a barrage of enemy fire as his unit attempted to carry out a daylight attack. Faced with the advancing counterattack, Puckett emerged from his position and ran three times into an open area to attract the attention of Chinese forces, allowing his fellow soldiers to identify the other side and destroy their positions.

Later that night, Puckett again played a leading position in his battalion’s offensive during a four-hour firefight. Puckett injured first by grenade fragments and later more grievously injured by enemy mortar, severely limiting his mobility. (continue reading)

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