On November 25, 1950, during one of the toughest battles of the Korean War, the US Eighth Army Ranger Company seized and held the strategically important Hill 205 overlooking the Chongchon River. Separated by more than a mile from the nearest friendly unit, fifty-one soldiers fought several hundred Chinese attackers. Their commander, Lieutenant Ralph Puckett, was wounded three times before he was evacuated. For his actions, he received the country's second-highest award for courage on the battlefield the Distinguished Service Cross and resumed active duty later that year as a living legend.
In this inspiring autobiography, Colonel Ralph Puckett recounts his extraordinary experiences on and off the battlefield. After he returned from Korea, Puckett joined the newly established US Army Ranger Department, serving as an instructor and tactical officer, and commanding companies at Fort Benning and in the Ranger Mountain Camp in north Georgia. He went on to lead companies in Vietnam, train cadets at West Point, and organize the Escuela de Lancero leadership course in Colombia. Puckett's story is critical reading for soldiers, leaders, military historians, and others interested in the impact of conflict on individual soldiers as well as the military as a whole.
About the Author
Colonel Ralph Puckett, USA (Ret.) led the Eighth Army Ranger Company during the Korean War and was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He served as the Honorary Colonel of the 75th Ranger Regiment, honorary instructor at the Infantry School, and was an inaugural inductee into the US Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 1992. He is the author of Words for Warriors: A Professional Soldier's Notebook.
D. K. R. Crosswell is the Colonel Richard R. Hallock Distinguished University Chair in Military History at Columbus State University, and the author of Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith.
Table of Contents
1 Georgia Boy: Early Influences 1
2 Want to Be a Flyboy: Training with the U.S. Army Air Corps Enlisted Reserve 13
3 A Soldier's Apprenticeship: West Point, Fort Riley, Kansas, and Fort Benning, Georgia 17
4 Korea: Eighth Army Ranger Company 31
5 Back on Track: Convalescence, Marriage, and the Ranger Department 53
6 Latin Sojourn: U.S. Army Caribbean Command and Forming the Colombian Ranger School 75
7 Climbing the Army School Ladder: Infantry Advanced Course, USMAPS, and the Command and General Staff College 93
8 Tenth Special Forces Group: Three-Year Idyll in Bavaria 107
9 Three More Way Stations Cleared: Armed Forces Staff College, the Pentagon, and U.S. Army War College 121
10 Strike Force: Battalion Command in Vietnam 133
11 Tet: The Unexpected Crossover 157
12 West Point: Changing Times at the Academy 183
13 The Fort Carson Blues: Troubled Birth of the New Army 197
14 Life in Mufti: Outward Bound, Discovery, and MicroBilt 213
15 Not All Old Soldiers Fade Away: Fort Benning Redux 231
Afterword General David H. Petraeus, USA (Ret.) 253
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