ARLNGTON, Va. (WRBL) — Less than 24 hours after the White House announced that retired Army Col. Ralph Puckett will receive the Medal of Honor Friday, the events in Washington have started.
Members of the Puckett family, one Korea battle buddy, and close friends and associates are gathering at an Arlington hotel in anticipation of Friday afternoon’s White House ceremony. Several of them did one-on-one interviews in advance of a Thursday afternoon news conference where Col. Puckett is scheduled to attend.
Col. Puckett is receiving the Medal of Honor, an upgrade of his Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions as a Ranger Company leader on Hill 205 behind enemy lines in Korea. He was severely wounded in that battle against the Chinese Army.
Ralph and Jeannie Puckett’s son, Thomas, told News 3 this was a special week for their family.
“Clearly the Medal of Honor is being specifically awarded for the actions on Hill 205,” Thomas Puckett said. “But I think he’s a Medal of Honor dad every day. He sets the standard for what it’s like to be a gentleman, what it’s like to be a man and be true to your word. It is just a very high standard he’s set and he lives up to it.”
And in the words of the Puckett children – who News 3 spoke with Thursday morning – while this is the military’s highest honor, family comes first.
Ralph and Jeannie Puckett’s two surviving children and six grandchildren will be in the East Room to watch it unfold.
This is just a piece of the nearly 70-year love story her parents have written, says their daughter Martha Puckett Wilcoxson.
“And this is one of the final love chapters,” she 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.”
Both of his parents became his heroes, Thomas Puckett told News 3.
“You asked earlier is my dad my hero,” he said. “My dad is my hero, but my mom is also a hero to me. I am so grateful that they are my parents. They have shown me along every phase of their life and every phase of my life how to live up to your full potential.”
Though he was a soldier and a warrior during much of their youth, Ralph Puckett was a dad to his three children.
“My father and I have a close relationship growing up,” Martha said. “And I have always admired him and have always been able to talk to him. He’s very humble and quiet presence but a very strong presence in the family.”
And he was there to offer support.
“He’s given me so much love and so much support my whole life,”. And he’s shown me what it’s like to have moral compass. To know what right and wrong is. And I definitely know what right and wrong is in any situation. Don’t always do it, but I know what’s right thanks to him.”