Retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett, Jr. ’43, age 94, was awarded the Medal of Honor on May 21, 2021, for acts of “conspicuous gallantry” during the Korean War. Presented by U.S. President Joe Biden, the Medal of Honor is the U.S. government's highest and most prestigious military decoration that may be awarded to recognize American soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, Space Force guardians, and coast guardsmen who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. According to the White House citation, Puckett “distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. His extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service.”
His extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service.
Puckett has previously earned a plethora of military awards including the Army Commendation Medal, Air Medal, Purple Heart (5), Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, and the Silver Star. He was originally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and, after a lengthy process, the Medal of Honor for his acts of bravery on Nov. 25, 1950 on Hill 205 in Korea, when Lt. Puckett and his platoon of some 50 troops had captured the strategic hill but faced a counterattack by the much larger forces of the enemy. Puckett ran into the open to draw fire several times allowing his team to identify and fire on the enemy’s position. As the fighting lasted into the night, Puckett was injured so badly that he was unable to move but continued to call for artillery support. When the artillery support was delayed, the enemy advanced. Puckett called on his men to leave him behind and abandon the position. Two of his Rangers ignored the order and carried Puckett out of danger from friendly fire where he was able to call in an artillery strike of high explosives on the enemy position. He was later medically evacuated.
Puckett attended Baylor for only his senior year and was a member of the Victory Corps and the baseball and boxing teams. He submitted a short quote for the 1943 yearbook, saying, “Yea, I am a boxer, one fight more.”