Colonel Ralph Puckett to receive the Medal of Honor for Korean War action

| May 4, 2021 | 10 Comments

Colonel Ralph Puckett, US Army (ret), is already a living legend within the US Army Ranger community. His Distinguished Service Cross from the Korean War, when he was a first lieutenant, is being upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Puckett commissioned into the Army after matriculating from West Point in 1949. After World War II the Ranger units had largely been eliminated, but in 1950 with the war breaking out in Korea, the Army started up a new Ranger company. Puckett, an infantry officer, immediately applied for a position with the Rangers. Though all the platoon leader positions were filled, he volunteered to “take a squad leader’s or rifleman’s job”, well below his paygrade. Impressed by his gusto, the colonel in charge of forming the 8th Army Ranger Company gave Puckett command of the whole company, a position normally reserved for a captain.

Just after a month in Korea, Puckett and his Rangers became famous for their taking and defense of Hill 205. Leading his men across 800 meters of enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire, the Rangers secured the objective.

After capturing the hill on 25 November 1950, Puckett and 50 Rangers held the hill for several hours. Despite waves of Chinese forces attacking them and the very real chance that the Rangers would be surrounded, Puckett led the valiant defense. He repeatedly called in artillery strikes “danger close” (i.e. calling fire down essentially on his own position) to repulse the enemy. Wounded in the battle, Puckett refused evacuation.

Puckett had led his men to repulse the hordes of enemy no less than five times! In a battle that had lasted more than four hours. On the sixth enemy attack, Puckett was wounded so severely that he was unable to move. Sensing that his position was soon to be overrun he ordered his men to evacuate. He also ordered them to leave him behind so that he wouldn’t slow their withdrawal. They of course refused.

For this battle, Puckett was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, which is now being upgraded to the Medal of Honor. President Biden called Colonel Puckett last Friday to congratulate him on the award. Puckett is now 94, so I hope they move quick to secure plans to make the award.

There’s much, much more to the storied career of Ralph Puckett. I’ll pick up after Hill 205 in this week’s Valor Friday piece.

The legislation passed that urged Puckett’s award upgrade is the same that included upgrade recommendations for Alwyn Cashe. No decision has been announced on Cashe’s award, but we will be the first to report when it does.

Thanks to Jeff LPH 3 for the story tip. Army Times link. 

 

Category: Army, Army News, Distinguished Service Cross, Guest Link, Medal of Honor, Real Soldiers, Valor

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  1. Valor Friday : This ain't Hell, but you can see it from here | May 7, 2021
  1. 2banana says:

    God bless the privates!

    “I had been wounded three times by then, and I was lying there in the foxhole unable to do anything,” Puckett said. “I could see three Chinese about 15 yards away from me, and they were bayonetting or shooting some of my wounded Rangers.”

    Two privates first class, Billy G. Walls and David L. Pollock, charged back up the hill, shot the three Chinese troops and carried Puckett down the steep mountain face, through brush and back to the American lines.”

  2. E4 Mafia '83-'87 says:

    They both deserved the awared…they earned it. I hope Puckett’s Rangers earned some recognition too.

  3. Green Thumb says:

    Hardcore.

    RLTW.

  4. CDR D says:

    My dad’s company, E/27 was on the hill to the west of the Rangers during this action. See S.L.A. Marshall’s “The River and the Gauntlet”, chapter 11.

  5. the-other-Tim says:

    When I was a RIA narrator, I would often speak with COL Puckett while waiting for the event.

    You could not find a more humble guy if you spent two lifetimes looking. He was always in coaching and mentoring mode and the students were graduating. He is a real life hero and legend.

  6. KoB says:

    “…shooting my wounded Rangers.” PHUQUE the Chinese Communists.

    BZ Colonel (then Lt) Puckett. Y’all notice that he is a Georgia Boy? Just saying.

    Thanks Mason, Jeff.

  7. MCPO USN says:

    It’ll be a shame if the medal is presented by that POS currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He deserves much better.

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