Former Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II, who received the Medal of Honor for braving heavy gunfire to save lives during a six-hour firefight in Afghanistan, has died of cancer. He was 41.
Shurer, an Army Special Forces veteran and Green Beret medic, was awarded the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on Oct. 1, 2018.
"This award is not mine. This award wouldn't exist without the team," Shurer said of being awarded the Medal of Honor. "If they weren't doing their job, I wouldn't have been able to do my job."
Before being awarded the nation's highest military honor from President Donald Trump, Shurer was previously presented with the Silver Star for the heroics he displayed on the battlefield in 2008.
In April 2008, Shurer was part of a 12-man Green Beret team sent to capture or kill several high-ranking members of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin militant group. Shurer and the 3rd Special Forces Group were attacked by an enemy force of more than 200 heavily-armed fighters in Afghanistan's Nuristan province.
During the six-hour Battle of Shok Valley in northeastern Afghanistan, the team came under enemy machine gun, sniper, and rocket-propelled grenade fire from the mountainside. Shurer returned fire on the enemy as he provided medical attention to his teammates. Shurer stabilized five U.S. Army soldiers, four of which were critically wounded, and medically treated 10 injured Afghan troops.
Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer: Shok Valley www.youtube.com
"Without Ron Shurer at my side, I would have died that day. No question," Sgt. First Class Dillon Behr told Stars and Stripes in 2018. "His presence gave me the confidence to know I could make it. There's a good chance if he would have been critically injured or killed on the battlefield … we all might have died out there."
Shurer helped evacuate the wounded down a steep mountainside despite snipers shooting his helmet and wounding his arm.
"It felt like I'd been hit in the head with a baseball bat," Shurer said of being hit by sniper fire.
After he loaded the wounded into a medevac helicopter, Shurer went back up the mountain to fight. Over 150 insurgents were killed during the bloody battle.
Outlasting the Enemy in Shok Valley | No Man Left Behind www.youtube.com
Shurer left the Army in 2009 and became a special agent with the Secret Service, first being posted to the Phoenix, Arizona, office. He relocated with his family to the Washington, D.C., area in 2014 to be part of a specialized Secret Service tactical team that defends the president.
Miranda Shurer said her husband died on Thursday in Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. Shurer was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2017.
"He was an amazing man. Obviously, he is known for being an amazing soldier," Miranda Shurer said. "The same characteristics that made him a great teammate in Special Forces also made him a great husband and a great father and a great friend. He was very loved."
"Ron was the embodiment of the Special Forces soldier, a dedicated husband, and a loving father," said 3rd Group commander Col. Nathan Prussian in a statement. "His heroic actions were an inspiration throughout 3rd Special Forces Group, Special Forces Regiment and the U.S. Army. Our condolences go out to his family during this difficult time."
"I feel like I lost my blood brother," Bahroz Mohmand, who served as an interpreter during the Battle of Shok Valley, said. "Ron was a great warrior. His legacy in Afghanistan is that he trained the first commando battalion and made them an example for the rest of the army."
"Today, we lost an American Hero: Husband, Father, Son, Medal of Honor Recipient - Special Agent Ronald J. Shurer II. From a grateful Nation and Agency — your memory and legacy will live on forever," the U.S. Secret Service said in a tweet.
Miranda Shurer said her husband will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In addition to his wife, Shurer is survived by his two sons.
Shurer graduated from Washington State University, and was pursuing a master's degree when the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks happened and compelled him to enlist in the military.
You can listen to Shurer talk about his life and the intense Battle of Shok Valley in this three-hour interview with retired U.S. Navy SEAL officer Jocko Willink.
Jocko Podcast 173 w/ Ron Shurer, Medal Of Honor Recipient: Fighting Up-Hill Battles. www.youtube.com