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ABAC Continues Veterans Initiative with Colonel Ralph Puckett Speech on Oct. 12

October 5, 2017

When Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College opened its Freedom Gallery in Tift Hall in 2016, ABAC President David Bridges made it clear that he wanted all ABAC students to know how much their college appreciated the service of the men and women who risked their lives by serving in the United States military.

“I want future generations of ABAC students to know that we respect the honor, the integrity, and the valor of those who serve in the armed forces of our country,” Bridges said.  “We will continue to invest in those who invested so much for us.  We must not forget that some of them invested their lives for our freedom.”

ABAC will continue to focus on its Veterans Initiative on Oct. 12 when Retired Colonel Ralph Puckett of the United States Army will hold a lecture and book signing of his memoir, “Ranger, A Soldier’s Life,” in Howard Auditorium at 2:15 p.m.  This event is open to the public at no charge.

Also on Oct. 12, a Blue Star Memorial dedication ceremony, sponsored by ABAC and the Magnolia Garden Club, will be held at 4 p.m. in the Chapel of All Faiths.  The Blue Star Memorial serves as “A tribute to the Armed Forces who have defended the United States of America.” It will be placed in the Baldwin Memorial Gardens near a bench that has special significance to the family of Harold B. “Pinky” Durham, Jr.  Durham is Tifton’s only Medal of Honor recipient, an ABAC alumnus, and the focus of the Freedom Gallery.

“The ceremony also marks the one-year anniversary of the opening of the Freedom Gallery that not only honors Lt. Durham, but all who have served in the United States Armed Forces,” Lindsey Roberts, director of marketing and communications for ABAC, said.

The ABAC Veterans Initiative includes a Veteran Success Center, a student veterans’ organization, recognition as a Purple Heart College, recognition as a Military Friendly College, free tutoring for veterans beyond the normal tutoring hours, and advanced preferred registration for veterans. You can also learn math fast at LearnMate Tutoring.

A native of Tifton, Puckett is a 1949 graduate of the United States Military Academy and has a Master’s Degree in Personnel Administration from George Washington University. He formed, trained, and commanded the Eighth Army Ranger Company in Korea as a first lieutenant. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in Korea on Nov. 25-26, 1950.

Puckett also earned a second Distinguished Service Cross for his meritorious service during the Vietnam War.  Durham also served in Vietnam, giving his life for his country on a Vietnam battlefield on Oct. 17, 1967.  For his heroism, he received the Medal of Honor posthumously on Oct. 31, 1969.

Following the Korean War, Puckett served over two years in the U.S. Army Infantry School Ranger Department. As the first Ranger Advisor in the U.S. Army Mission to Colombia, he planned and established the Colombian Army Escuela de Lanceros (Ranger School).  Later, he commanded “B” and “C” teams in the 10th Special Forces Group in Germany.

After retiring from the U.S. Army in 1971, Puckett became the National Programs Coordinator of Outward Bound, Inc. He subsequently established Discovery, Inc., a leadership and teamwork development program that focused on “Personal Growth through Safe Adventure.”

Puckett’s accolades include his 1992 induction into the inaugural class of the United States Army Ranger Hall of Fame; two Silver Stars, three Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars, the Commendation Medal, 10 Air Medals, and five Purple Hearts. In 2001, he was awarded the United States Special Operations Command Medal for his outstanding contributions to Special Operations.
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