Ralph Puckett Jnr MOH

b. 08/12/1926 Tifton, Georgia. d. 08/04/2024 Columbus, Georgia.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 25-26/11/1950 Hill 205, near Unsan, Korea.

Ralph Puckett MOH

Puckett was born on December 8, 1926 in Tifton, Georgia. He grew up in Tifton, which is in South Georgia. He attended Tifton High School, then finished high school at Baylor School, at that time a military academy, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He enrolled at Georgia Tech in 1943 before enlisting in the U.S. Army during World War II. In 1943, he became an Eagle Scout.

Puckett enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps Enlisted Reserve in 1943 to become a pilot, undertaking his pre-aviation cadet training at Georgia Tech. However, with a glut of trained pilots, the program was disbanded. Puckett tried to remain in service with the Air Corps, but after it became clear there would be no chance at flight training, he chose to be discharged. He obtained an appointment to the United States Military Academy in July 1945.

In 1949, Puckett graduated from the United States Military Academy (where he captained the Army Boxing Team), was commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant, deployed to Japan, and immediately volunteered to be assigned with the Rangers. When he was informed that there were no more lieutenant positions in the Eighth Army Ranger Company, he said that he would “take a squad leader’s or rifleman’s job”; positions several grades lower than a lieutenant’s. Colonel McGee, who was in charge of forming the company, was so impressed by Puckett’s attitude that he gave him the company commander’s position; a position normally reserved for captains. On October 11, 1950, the Eighth Army Ranger Company entered the Korean War, conducting raids during both daylight and night time conditions.

He was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on Hill 205, during the Battle of Chongchon River on the night of 25th-26th November 1950. Following the Korean War, Puckett served over two years in the U.S. Army Infantry School Ranger Department as commander of the Mountain Ranger Division. As the first Ranger Advisor in the U.S. Army Mission to Colombia, he planned and established the Colombian Army Escuela de Lanceros (Ranger School). Later, he commanded “B” and “C” teams in the 10th Special Forces Group in Germany. In 1967, Puckett, then a Lieutenant Colonel, commanded the 2d Battalion, 502d Infantry (Airborne) of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross for heroic leadership in August 1967. During a firefight near Duc Pho, South Vietnam, he exposed himself to intense enemy fire and rallied his undermanned unit to defeat Viet Cong forces.

Puckett retired in 1971 after 22 years of active duty to become the national programs coordinator of Outward Bound, Inc. He subsequently established leadership and teamwork development program Discovery, Inc. After several years of successful leadership at Discovery, Inc. in Herndon, Virginia, Puckett moved to Atlanta and began the Discovery Program at The Westminster Schools. In 1984, he became the executive vice-president of MicroBilt, Inc., a soft- and hardware computer company. Puckett was an inaugural inductee into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 1992. He served as the Honorary Colonel for the 75th Ranger Regiment from 1996 to 2006 for which he was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Award. He often spoke at graduations and other functions at Fort Benning and was an Honorary Instructor at The Infantry School. He was inducted into the Order of St. Maurice in 1997, and was the 1998 Ranger of the Year for the Ranger Infantry Companies of the Korean War. He was inducted into the USAF Gathering of Eagles in 1999. He was added to the Tifton, Georgia, Wall of Fame in 2004. Other honours include appointment as an Ambassador of Goodwill by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, selection as a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Military Academy in 2004, and selection as the Infantry’s Doughboy Award recipient in 2007. He was the author of Words for Warriors: A Professional Soldier’s Notebook and numerous media articles.

His DSC was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 2021. He was presented with his Medal on May 21, 2021 at The White House from President Joseph Biden Jnr. Puckett passed away aged 97 on April 8, 2024 in Columbus, Georgia.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: First Lieutenant Ralph Puckett, Jr. distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty, while serving as the Commander, 8th U.S. Army Ranger Company during the period of 25 November 1950 through 26 November 1950, in Korea. As his unit commenced a daylight attack on Hill 205, the enemy directed mortar, machine gun, and small arms fire against the advancing force. To obtain supporting fire, First Lieutenant Puckett mounted the closest tank, exposing himself to the deadly enemy fire. Leaping from the tank, he shouted words of encouragement to his men and began to lead the Rangers in the attack. Almost immediately, enemy fire threatened the success of the attack by pinning down one platoon. Leaving the safety of his position with full knowledge of the danger, First Lieutenant Puckett intentionally ran across an open area three times to draw enemy fire, thereby allowing the Rangers to locate and destroy the enemy positions and to seize Hill 205. During the night, the enemy launched a counterattack that lasted four hours. Over the course of the counterattack, the Rangers were inspired and motivated by the extraordinary leadership and courageous example exhibited by First Lieutenant Puckett. As a result, five human wave attacks by a battalion strength enemy element were repulsed. During the first attack, First Lieutenant Puckett was wounded by grenade fragments, but refused evacuation and continually directed artillery support that decimated attacking enemy formations, repeatedly abandoned positions of relative safety to make his way from foxhole to foxhole to check the company’s perimeter, and distribute ammunition amongst the Rangers. When the enemy launched a sixth attack, it became clear to First Lieutenant Puckett that the position was untenable due to the unavailability of supporting artillery fire. During this attack, two enemy mortar rounds landed in his foxhole, inflicting grievous wounds which limited his mobility. Knowing his men were in a precarious situation, First Lieutenant Puckett commanded the Rangers to leave him behind and evacuate the area. Feeling a sense of duty to aid him, the Rangers refused the order and staged an effort to retrieve him from the foxhole while still under fire from the enemy. Ultimately, the Rangers succeeded in retrieving First Lieutenant Puckett and they moved to the bottom of the hill, where First Lieutenant Puckett called for devastating artillery fire on the top of the enemy controlled hill. First Lieutenant Puckett’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.