Korean War hero Ralph Puckett Jr. will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol later this month in recognition of his valor and the sacrifice of all troops who served in the conflict, House and Senate leaders announced on Tuesday.

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said that Puckett, a retired Army colonel, will be given the rare honor on April 29.

“The extraordinary valor of Col. Ralph Puckett, Jr. represents the best of the 1.7 million Americans who left home to fight for freedom in the Korean War,” they said in a joint statement. “He demonstrated tireless sacrifice for our country and his fellow rangers and is an exceptional model for service members and civilians alike.”

Puckett, 97, was the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Korean War. He received the honor in 2021, more than 70 years after his heroism overseas. He died earlier this month.

At that time, he was a young lieutenant in 1950 who led 51 Army Rangers and nine Korean soldiers across frozen rice paddies to seize a key hill overlooking the Ch’ongch’on River. Army officials said Puckett repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire over nearly a day of fighting, first to commandeer a tank to provide cover for his men, then several more times to draw fire away from the positions they were trying to defend.

Puckett was wounded several times by shrapnel and small arms fire. At one point, he ordered his men to leave him behind and retreat to a safer area. They managed to evacuate him before American artillery fire destroyed their overrun positions on the hill.

In addition to the military’s highest honor, Puckett earned a Distinguished Service Cross for actions during the Vietnam War and two Silver Stars. He served for 22 years.

Only six other Americans have laid in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. The last was Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient, after his death in summer 2022. Thirty-four others have lain in state there.

Capitol officials have not yet announced any plans for public visitation for the event.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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