White House Awards 97-Year-Old Veteran Medal of Honor

Seventy years ago on a frozen mountain top deep in the North Korean jungle, First Lieutenant Ralph Puckett, Jr. led a platoon to secure a hill that served as a vital junction point for combatant communications. During the assault, machine gun fire threatened the lives of him and his comrades. Running to a nearby tank, Puckett stood atop the armored vehicle drawing attention away from his platoon to his person, allowing vital time for his men to regroup prior to taking the hill.

For his bravery, Puckett was awarded the United States’ military’s second highest honor for bravery, the Distinguished Service Cross, in the aftermath of the Korean War. Upon further review of his actions on that day more than seventy years ago, the Defense department recommended Puckett, now 97-years-old receive the nation’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

In response to the White House’s invitation to the ceremony, Puckett said, “Why all the fuss? Can’t they just mail it to me?”

Puckett citation states: “For acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the commander 8th U.S. Army Ranger Company…”

“[When] 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.” 

When the Army Rangers seized the hill, Puckett suspected something was not right, finding the formerly fortified hill abandoned. 

“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.”

During the awards ceremony, President Joe Biden acknowledged Puckett’s “fuss” for the occasion and stated, “Rather than mail it to you, I would’ve walked it to you.”

Because of the bravery of armed service men and women like First Lieutenant Puckett, the world is a safer place.

Source: White House