Former Westminster faculty member retired Col. Ralph Puckett Jr. received the military’s highest honor at a White House ceremony on Friday.
President Biden bestowed the Medal of Honor on Puckett for bravery under enemy fire more than 70 years ago in the Korean War.
Over two days in November 1950, Puckett, as first lieutenant, helped the 8th U.S. Army Ranger Company to secure a strategically important hill near Unsan. They faced mortar, machine gun, and small arms fire.
Puckett sprinted across the open area to draw fire so that Rangers could find and destroy enemy positions. Two mortar rounds later landed in his foxhole during the fighting and seriously wounded him. He ordered his men to leave him behind and depart the hill, but they refused.
Following his retirement from the army in the 1970s, Puckett founded experiential and outdoor education programs for children and adults. In 1980, Puckett was hired by Westminster, where he founded the Discovery program, which became known nationally in the adventure education community. More than 40 years later, Upper School students still take part in the program that fosters a sense of personal accomplishment and community leadership.