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Biden to Award First Medal of Honor Friday

Korean War vet Col. Ralph Puckett Jr. will be honored for acts of bravery
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2021 5:01 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Biden will award his first Medal of Honor this week to a retired colonel for acts of bravery during the Korean War, the White House announced Wednesday. Biden will bestow the nation's most prestigious military honor on retired Col. Ralph Puckett Jr., who held Hill 205, a strategic position near Unsan, over two days in November 1950 while fighting off numerous attacks during the battle in which he endured multiple wounds, the AP reports. South Korean President Moon Jae-in will attend the ceremony, the White House said. Moon will be in Washington for a summit with Biden at the White House on Friday. Puckett, 94, lives in Columbus, Georgia, with Jean, his wife of 68 years.

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Puckett was a first lieutenant and commander of the 8th US Army Ranger Company when his unit launched a daytime offensive on Hill 205. Enemy forces directed mortar, machine gun, and small arms fire against Puckett and his men in return. At one point, Puckett intentionally ran across an open area multiple times to draw enemy fire to allow his Rangers to find and destroy enemy positions and seize Hill 205, the White House said. Puckett was seriously wounded when mortar rounds landed in his foxhole, llimiting his mobility. He ordered his men to evacuate and leave him behind, but they refused. While under enemy fire, the Rangers retrieved Puckett from the foxhole and brought him to the bottom of the hill, where he directed operations against the enemy.

(Read more Medal of Honor stories.)

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