Staff Sergeant Ronald J. Shurer II – a Special Forces Senior Medical Sergeant – moved directly towards the enemy while under fire from machine guns, sniper fire and RPGs in order to get to the forward element of his team to provide lifesaving aid in the Shok Valley of Afghanistan.
SSG Shurer was born in Fairbanks, Alaska and grew up the son of an Airman – where he lived all around the country. He went to high school in Washington state after his father was stationed at McChord Air Force Base. After graduating he attended Washington State University, earning a degree in business economics.
After 9/11 he followed the family tradition and enlisted in the U.S. Army where he was assigned to the 601st Area Support Medical Company, 261st Area Medical Battalion, 44th Medical Command, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
In 2004 he challenged the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course and was accepted into the Special Forces Qualification Course. He earned his green beret and became a medical sergeant (18 Delta) – getting assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group.
After all this training and previous deployments, SSG Shurer found himself offloading a helicopter with his ODA and was looking to capture or kill high-value targets of the Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin within in the Shok Valley.
Shortly after landing they became pinned down and were taking heavy fire. He had heard that the forward element was also pinned down and was taking heavy fire along with multiple casualties.
Without regard for his own safety Shurer tactfully moved forward through the enemy fire from above and advanced up the side of the mountain.
Before reaching the forward element he had found another team member who had a neck wound from an RPG. After treating his wounds he moved up to the forward element and found four critically wounded U.S. Soldiers and ten Afghan commandos – where he provided life-saving aide.
While attending the wounded at that site which was 15 meters away, his Team Sergeant had become wounded. Again disregarding his own life Shurer moved under enemy fire to that position.
On his way there he was struck in the helmet by enemy fire and also sustained a wound to his arm. He later described getting hit in the helmet in these words, “It felt like I’d been hit in the head with a baseball bat.”
He had just finished patching up his Team Sergeant when he heard of another wounded soldier. He sprinted back through the same enemy fire to help aid the teammate who had a life-threatening traumatic wound to his right leg.
Shurer then helped evacuate several critically wounded teammates down a 60-foot cliff to an extraction site – all while using his own body to shield the bodies of the wounded from enemy fire and the debris from the close air support.
He reports having used nylon webbing to tie around the wounded so he could lower them down to the next set of teammates – trying to ensure they did not cause any further harm to his teammates.
Every teammate that was wounded received life-saving care and none of his teammates were lost during that battle – which his care was directly responsible for.
For his heroism, he was awarded the nation’s highest award, where on October 1st of 2018 Shurer became the latest recipient of the Medal of Honor.