Biden awards Medal of Honor to retired Ranger for his actions on Hill 205> US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE> Department of Defense News
President Joe Biden today presented the country’s highest military honor to retired Col. Ralph Puckett Jr., for his actions as first lieutenant and commander of the Eighth Army Ranger Company during the Korean conflict of 25-26 November 1950.
It has been seven decades since the Battle of Hill 205, where Puckett led his 57 Korean Rangers and soldiers against six battalion-sized attacks, marking the beginning of China’s involvement in the Korean conflict against the forces. American and UN.
The company faced freezing weather conditions without proper cold weather gear. Food, ammunition and supplies were also limited as supply lines struggled to keep up with the advance of the army.
After more than a decade of effort… I am incredibly proud to give Colonel Ralph Puckett’s act of bravery, the full recognition it has always deserved. ”
President Joe Biden
“The intelligence briefing indicated that there were 25,000 Chinese troops in the area,” Biden said. “[Puckett] believed in fundamentals. It was how he trained his men, and how he had picked them by hand, chosen from the ranks of cooks, clerks and mechanics to [become] the first Ranger Company since WWII. “
Outnumbered by nearly 10 to 1, Puckett led his company and waves of artillery support through the constant barrage of enemy small arms and mortar fire. He continually exposed himself to enemy fire as he maneuvered out of this fox hole to scrutinize his defensive perimeter and motivate his soldiers.
Puckett was injured three times in the attack. A mortar attack seriously injured him during the last Chinese assault. As the enemy invaded Hill 205, he ordered his Rangers to leave him behind and withdraw.
Puckett watched three Chinese fighters come closer, bayonet and shoot the wounded. Disobeying their commander’s orders, two of his Rangers charged and killed the three enemies and put their commander out of harm’s way.
“They didn’t hold the hill but the Rangers took a heavy price on it,” Biden said. “[The Korean Conflict] is sometimes called the “forgotten war”. The men who were there under 1st Lt. Puckett will never forget his bravery. They will never forget that he was by their side every moment. “
As he reached the base of the hill, Puckett called for a final attack of incendiary white phosphorus ammunition at the top of Hill 205 to secure their exit.
“After more than a decade of effort… I am incredibly proud to give Colonel Ralph Puckett’s act of bravery the full recognition he has always deserved,” said Biden.
Puckett was offered a medical discharge after the Korean conflict, but he refused. He underwent a long recovery, which also led to a chance meeting with Jeannie, the woman who would become his lifetime wife when she visited him at the hospital in Fort Benning, Ga., With a close friend. The two tied the knot almost two years later.
“It’s not just the person in the uniform who serves,” Biden said, addressing Jeannie in the audience. “Military families make enormous sacrifices for our nation. So let me thank you and your life of service.
Puckett was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on Hill 205 in 1951. He served in Vietnam in 1967, where he was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross for his efforts.
Colonel Puckett is a true hero of the Korean War. ”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in
Throughout his career, he received two Silver Stars; two legions of merit; two bronze stars with V device for bravery; five purple hearts; ten air medals; the Army Recognition Medal; and the WWII Victory Medal, among others.
After retiring from the military in 1971, he moved to Columbus, Georgia, and continued to serve in various capacities.
In 1992, he was selected as the inaugural inductee into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame. He also provided a wealth of experience to the 75th Ranger Regiment as the regiment’s first honorary colonel from 1996. What was supposed to be a two-year conditional term lasted until 2006.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended the ceremony to pay tribute to Puckett, his family and the Eighth Army Ranger Company.
“I find it truly meaningful to participate in Colonel Ralph Puckett Jr.’s Medal of Honor ceremony,” said Moon, adding that it was a great honor to be invited to the ceremony as Chief Executive Officer. foreigner to participate in an event.
“Colonel Puckett is a true hero of the Korean War,” Moon said. “Without the sacrifice of veterans, including Colonel Puckett and the Eighth Army Ranger Company, the freedom and democracy we enjoy today could not have flourished in Korea.”
“From the ashes of the Korean War, we came back and it was thanks to the war veterans who fought for Korean peace and freedom,” Moon added. The Republic of Korea and the American Alliance, forged in the blood of heroes, have become a pillar of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and beyond. Colonel Puckett and his fellow warriors are a bond that closely binds Korea and the United States. “
Puckett’s wife, children and grandchildren, as well as retired Lt. Col. John Lock, a military historian who pushed for the Medal of Honor upgrade, were in attendance. They are also joined by the retired Master Sgt. Merle Simpson, a former technical sergeant and heavy weapons squad leader who fought in battle.
“I never thought I would be chosen for the company,” Simpson said in an interview Thursday. “Puckett impressed me. If you made a mistake, you would do 50 pushups, and he would do 50 with you. We don’t know how many he made per day.
Puckett’s influence drove Simpson to become a better Ranger and a better leader. He was defending the other side of Hill 205 when he learned that his commander had been seriously injured. The news was hard for him and the rest of the company to take, he recalls.
“It was difficult for Ralph to lose a man, and he never forgot it,” Simpson added. “I can’t speak for everyone who has passed away, but I’m honored to be a part of it. He was the type to influence everyone, including me.”