Medal of Honor recipient dies; saved lives in Afghanistan

Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II (Photo: via CBS News)

(CBS News) — 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.

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

Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II (Photo: Department of Defense)

“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.

Remarkably, parts of it were captured on video, showing Shurer’s team of Green Berets and Afghan commandos coming off their helicopter.

“Felt like we’re being shot at from every direction,”¬†Shurer told CBS News correspondent David Martin in 2018.

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.

Medevacs braved the firestorm, to evacuate the casualties: four critically wounded Americans and two dead Afghan commandos.

“We got everybody. We got everybody out,” Shurer said.

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.

Miranda Shurer, citing restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic, said her husband will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery near the nation’s capital at a future date.

In addition to his wife, Shurer is survived by two sons.