COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Last Friday, a Columbus man got a call from President Joe Biden informing him he will receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
That man is retired U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett.
His heroic actions came nearly 71 years ago in hillside battle in the early part of the Korean War. Puckett was also highly decorated in Vietnam.
When President Biden puts the Medal of Honor around Puckett’s neck, the longtime Honorary Colonel of the 75th Ranger Regiment will be breathing rarified military air.
A date for that ceremony has not been set by the White House.
The U.S. Army does not proclaim someone to be the most decorated soldier in its branch. It’s strictly subjective.
But when the Medal of Honor is awarded to Puckett, he will enter that conversation.
“If you Google which U.S. Army soldier has won the most awards in the U.S. Army,” said Lt. Col. (Retired) John Lock. “Two names will pop up. Maj. Audie Murphy from World War II, which a lot of people know of. And, also, Col. Robert Howard from Vietnam. Two exceptionally distinguished soldiers.”
With the Medal of Honor, Puckett will now have the following military citations:
- Medal of Honor (Korea)
- Distinguished Service Cross (Vietnam)
- Silver Star with first Oak Leaf Cluster (Vietnam)
- Legion of Merit with first Oak Leaf Cluster
- Bronze Star with V Device with first Oak Leaf Cluster (Vietnam)
- And five Purple Hearts earned through wounds suffered in Korea and Vietnam.
Lt. Col. (Retired) John Lock /U.S. Army: “Now when you contrast these three individuals, Col. Puckett, Audie Murphy and Robert Howard, you will see that Col. Puckett has one more Silver Star than Col. Howard has and Col. Puckett has two more Purple Hearts than – he has five total in contrast to Audie Murphy,” Lock said.
Lock has been working 18 years to have Col. Puckett’s Distinguished Service Cross from Korea upgraded.
Puckett takes this in stride with his trademark humbleness. It is not something he sought, and deflects the credit that will come his way.
“First of all, I am going to try and measure up to that,” Puckett said. “I can’t do it. I’m not that good. There are a lot of soldiers who are just as good and a lot who are a lot better than I ever was.”
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