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Medal of Honor recipient and WSU graduate Ronald Shurer, 41, dies of cancer

UPDATED: Fri., May 15, 2020

Former Army Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II smiles at his family before being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. Shurer, who graduated from WSU, died May 14 of lung cancer. (Evan Vucci / AP)
Former Army Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II smiles at his family before being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. Shurer, who graduated from WSU, died May 14 of lung cancer. (Evan Vucci / AP)

Ronald Shurer II, who graduated from Washington State University in 2001 and joined the Army a year later and served with such extraordinary valor in Afghanistan that he earned the nation’s highest military honor, died Thursday of cancer. He was 41.

The Medal of Honor recipient grew up in Puyallup and earned a WSU business degree. He was in graduate school in Pullman when the 9/11 attacks changed his life’s path. He went from student on the Palouse to Green Beret in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, where he served as a medic in a Special Forces unit caught in a fierce battle in the Shok Valley.

His efforts on April 6, 2008, saved the lives of his fellow soldiers along with Afghan commandos, even as a bullet caromed off his helmet and another pierced his arm.

An account of the ambush and firefight were captured in the book “No Way Out: A Story of Valor in the Mountains.”

The Secret Service hired Shurer in 2009 after he left the Army. The agency announced his death on May 14:

“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. Rest In Peace.”

President Donald Trump presented the Medal of Honor to Shurer in 2018. At the time Shurer had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.

In the battle, Shurer scaled up a mountainside under fire from higher ground to reach the wounded members of his unit.

One of the soldiers recounted Shurer’s actions in a 2018 story published by Stars and Stripes.

“Without Ron Shurer at my side, I would have died that day. No question,” Dillon Behr said in the story. “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.”

He fought cancer for years and on Wednesday posted a picture of himself in a hospital bed.

In a message to the Washington Post, fellow Army veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Florent Groberg wrote of Shurer: “He was an inspiration to me. He never let cancer take away his smile and his mission to support our community.

“We all know about his military exploits, but it was the husband, the father and the friend that made Ron unique. He never showed his pain – only his love and strength. We lost an exceptional person but his legacy will live on forever.”

Shurer is survived by his wife Miranda; two sons, Tyler and Cameron; and his parents, Ronald and Fabiola Shurer.

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