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U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett lies in honor at Capitol

Posted April. 24, 2024 08:03,   

Updated April. 24, 2024 08:03


U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett, highly decorated for his service in the Korean War by both the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK), will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on April 29. This honor allows him to be remembered and honored by visitors to the Capitol.

The Rotunda, situated centrally within the U.S. Capitol, is a large circular area elevated to the height of a second-story building. It serves as a place of tribute for highly decorated public figures, including former and current U.S. presidents. Col. Puckett, a distinguished Korean War veteran, will be the first of his kind to be honored in this prestigious location. Widely acknowledged for his valor, he notably defended Hill 205, north of the Chongchon River, on six occasions during the war.

According to a U.S. congressional report on Monday, both the Senate and the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution advocating for the placement of Col. Puckett's remains in the Capitol Rotunda and allowing tribute visits. The bipartisan resolution, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, reflects Congress's deep respect for the colonel. The resolution also honors his sacrifice and 5.7 million more who served in the “Forgotten War.” A public memorial service for Col. Puckett will be held on April 29, followed by the return of his remains to his hometown of Georgia for final interment.

Col. Puckett, one of the most decorated soldiers in U.S. Army history, was honored by ROK President Yoon Suk Yeol during a White House visit in April 2023. Notably, President Yoon personally escorted him in his wheelchair to a dinner commemorating the 70th anniversary of the ROK-U.S. alliance and presented him with the Taeguk Order of Military Merit. Furthermore, in May 2021, President Joe Biden awarded Col. Puckett the Medal of Honor, one of the highest U.S. decorations.

Born in Georgia in 1926, Col. Puckett was appointed commander of the Army Special Forces 8th Ranger Company in November 1950 during the Korean War. He was pivotal in forcing North Korean soldiers to retreat beyond the 38th parallel, notably securing Hill 205 during the Battle of Chongchon River, where he faced the Chinese human-wave strategy. Following his service in Korea, he was deployed to Vietnam and West Germany, among other assignments.

Jeong-Soo Hong hong@donga.com