Ronald Shurer, Medal of Honor Recipient, 1978-2020

A hero of the Afghan War has succumbed to cancer, aged 41.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 10: Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sergeant Ronald J. Shurer II waves to the crowd during the National Football League game between the New York Jets and the New York Giants on November 10, 2019 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

AP (“Medal of Honor recipient dies; saved lives in Afghanistan“):

Former Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II, who received the Medal of Honor in 2018 for braving heavy gunfire to save lives in Afghanistan, has died of cancer. He was 41.

Miranda Shurer said her husband died Thursday in Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. She said he was diagnosed with cancer three years ago.

Ronald Shurer II received the nation’s highest military honor from President Donald Trump in a formal White House ceremony attended by 250 people.

“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.”

A native of Fairbanks, Alaska, Shurer was a senior medical sergeant in the special forces on April 6, 2008, when his team encountered machine gun and sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades from militants.
Shurer stabilized one soldier, then fought his way amid gunfire up a mountain to the lead members of the unit. There, he treated and stabilized four more soldiers. Shurer helped evacuate them. He lowered the wounded down the steep mountainside while using his body to shield them from enemy fire.

After he had loaded the wounded in an evacuation helicopter, Shurer went back up the mountain to fight.

Initially rejected by the military because of a medical condition, Shurer successfully enlisted a year after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was promoted from sergeant to staff sergeant in late 2006 and served with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan from late November 2007 to late May 2008. He was honorably discharged a year later.

Shurer then began a career with the Secret Service as a special agent assigned to a field office in Phoenix, Arizona, in September 2009. He was selected for the Secret Service’s counter assault team and assigned to the Special Operations Division in June 2014.

“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.

Sad news, indeed.

That he went on to serve as an operator with the Secret Service rather than staying in the Army is interesting. That they lauded his passing in a tweet is, I suppose, a sign of the times.

While I recall Shurer’s receiving the award from President Trump, we somehow failed to document the event here at OTB. Only 24 men have received our nation’s highest military honor since the 9/11 attacks launched wars that have been ongoing for nearly two decades now. Shurer was one of only 14 to live to have the President hang it around his neck.

Despite its incredible rarity even on a per-deployed basis compared to earlier wars, none of them are household names.

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Military Affairs, Obituaries, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. CSK says:

    “…while using his body to shield them from enemy fire.” Hero is the word. RIP.

  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    Goodspeed Ronald Shurer

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

    I hate that we’ve devalued the word, ‘hero.’ My daughter is an essential worker in a grocery store. I’m proud of her. But she is not using her body to shield wounded soldiers from enemy fire. Same when fans tell me I’m their hero. No, I’m a guy who figured out how to get paid for entertaining you. No heroism involved.

    It sucks that this actual hero didn’t get to live the life he deserved. It’s a tragedy, another overused word.

  4. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Yes indeed.