U.S. Army Colonel Ralph Puckett, Jr., a legend in the Ranger Regiment will be awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House on Friday for his own “conspicuous gallantry” during the Korean War. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had planned an official state visit to President Biden, will also attend the ceremony.

Puckett, now 94, has served his country and the Regiment for more than 70 years.

He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy when he was 23 and was assigned to an Infantry company in Japan. Yet, Puckett volunteered for the Ranger Company. However, he was told that there were no more lieutenant positions in the 8th Army Ranger Company. He was nonplussed. Puckett said that he would “take a squad leader’s or rifleman’s job,” taking a rank bust several grades lower than a lieutenant’s. Colonel McGee, who was in charge of forming the Ranger company, was so impressed by Puckett’s attitude that he gave him the company commander’s position, a position normally reserved for captains. The Ranger company deployed to Korea on October 10, 1950. 

Ralph Puckett will be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Biden for his actions in Korea leading a Ranger company against a Chinese battalion.

The Battle for Hill 205

It was late November 1950. Then-1st Lt. Puckett and his 51 men of the 8th Ranger company were attacking Hill 205 in a daring daylight attack when they were faced with intensive small arms, machine gun, and mortar fire. Pitted against them was a whole Chine battalion.

“To obtain supporting fire, 1LT 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,” a White House statement read. 

“Leaving the safety of his position and 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.”

Later that night, Puckett displayed amazing “extraordinary leadership and courageous example,” during a four-hour firefight. “As a result, five human wave attacks by a battalion strength enemy element were repulsed,” the statement added. 

He was wounded first by grenade fragments and later more seriously by enemy mortar rounds, severely limiting his mobility. However, he refused to be pulled away to safety and continued to direct artillery fire, calling in strikes “danger close” on the enemy who vastly outnumbered his own forces.