COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — For more than five decades Col. Ralph Puckett has been a distinguished military leader. But his *first opportunity to lead actually came during his years as a Boy Scout, and that experience has served well his entire life.

“On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country…”

“Of all the things about scouting that influenced me, the Boy Scout oath did the most,” Col. Puckett said. “Repeating the Scout oath was probably the first time that I realized that I had a duty to contribute something to my country, to give something back to this great land in which we are privileged and fortunate to live.”

Col. Ralph Puckett made those remarks in 2013 when he was presented with the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Chattahoochee Council of the Boys Scouts of America.

On Friday, he received the nation’s highest military honor from President Joe Biden. Puckett was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Korea in 1950. The foundation of his bravery and service were built as Boy Scout in his hometown of Tifton, Georgia in the 1940s.

“Next to my parents, scouting was the most influential action on me while I was a young man,” Puckett said in that speech. “That influence has affected me all my life. Only my father in being a U.S. Army Ranger have had greater impacts than the Scouts did on me early on.”

Col. Puckett recalls as a youngster watching the Boys Scouts in action during the holidays helping folks across the street.

“The uniform caught my attention,” he said. “I wanted to be a scout. When could I be old enough to become a scout? That day was more important to me than getting a driver’s license when I became of age.”

That day finally did come, and it opened the door for a young Ralph Puckett to test his leadership skills.

“I became a patrol leader and later the senior patrol leader,” he said. “With a push from my mother, I earned Eagle Scout rank with gold palm.”

In receiving the Boys Scouts Distinguished Citizen Award, Col. Puckett clearly preferred to give honor to others. He started with a quote from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“He said humility must always be the portion of any individual whose acclaim was earned by the blood of his soldiers and the sacrifices of his friends,” Puckett said. “They deserve the credit. They’re the ones who carried me on their shoulders.”