COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The date of November 26th has special significance for Col. Ralph Puckett. It was on that date in 1950 he was wounded defending Hill 205 in North Korea fighting the Chinese. The date took on extra special meaning when Jean Martin of Columbus came into his life.
“The first time I saw him, his photograph was in the newspaper,” Jeannie Martin said. “I was a senior in high school and I saw the photograph of him on the back page and I said, ‘Oh, that is a cute man.’”
That same day Jean’s typing teacher at Columbus High School, Mrs. Strickland, had clipped Ralph’s picture out of the newspaper and brought it to school.
“She held it up at the end of class and she asked would some of you girls go out over the holiday and see this young man,” Jeannie Puckett told News 3.
Mrs. Strickland said she had taught Ralph in the 7th grade in his hometown of Tifton, Georgia, adding that she knew the family and he was very nice.
“Well, nice girls didn’t go to Benning to see soldiers, so nobody volunteered,” Jeannie Puckett joked.
Ralph was at Martin Army Hospital at Fort Benning recuperating from injuries he suffered in Korea.
Jean eventually did wind up visiting Ralph with one of her girlfriends.
“We walked into the room,” Jeannie Puckett remembered. “Ralph’s father said Ralph is going to marry one of you girls because last night a fortune teller came on the ward and said a blonde and a brunette would come visit him and he would marry one of them. And we all joked and laughed and he turned so red. He was very shy.”
But the young lieutenant made a lasing impression on the Columbus High senior, six years younger than he was.
“I thought he was adorable. I really did.”
As Ralph continued to heal in the hospital, Jean’s visits became more frequent. Their love for each other grew, and they even talked about getting married.
“After a lot of talk with my family, we finally agreed I would go off to college,” she said. “If I felt the same way a year later, they would listen. So a year later we got married. We actually married on November 26th which was the day he was wounded on hill 205.”
November 26th also happens to be the date Jean’s parents got married.
Martha Puckett Wilcoxson says the Medal of Honor was a special piece of the love story her parents have shared for seven decades.
“And this is one of the final love chapters,” Wilcoxson said. “And it’s the bow around their story. I feel privileged and honored and it’s very sentimental that I am going to get to see my mom and my father share this time together and Dad receive this long-deserved award.”