Staff Sergeant Ronald J. Shurer II, a WSU alumnus who received the Medal of Honor in 2018, died Thursday of complications from cancer. He was 41.
Shurer was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, and his condition had taken a turn for the worse recently, resulting in a hospitalization. According to an Instagram post on Wednesday, he had been unconscious for about a week:
The Secret Service, for which Shurer had worked since his discharge in 2009, announced his death via Twitter on Thursday.
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. pic.twitter.com/stCRfifoSC— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) May 14, 2020
The Medal of Honor is one of the nation’s highest and most rare military awards, and it was given to Shurer for his valor in putting his own life at risk to save others during a firefight in Afghanistan in 2008.
Shurer graduated from WSU with a bachelor’s degree in business economics and, after having an application to join the Marines declined on medical grounds, was attending grad school in Pullman when the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred. He enlisted again, this time joining the army in 2002 and two years later became a medic with the 3rd Special Forces Group, serving two tours in Afghanistan.
Unlike other medics, special forces medics are considered part of the offensive capability of their units, and he was fighting back at the enemy while trying to save other wounded soldiers — even as he had been shot in the helmet and the arm — during the fateful battle in the Shok Valley.
“All I remember is, ‘We’re going to get to my brothers,’” Shurer recalled. “I don’t remember gunfire. I don’t remember obstacles.”
Shurer — also honored by the WSU Board of Regents with the Distinguished Alumnus Award — returned to Pullman in November 2018 to raise the Cougar flag before the Apple Cup.
#WSU lost an extraordinary alum today. We send our deepest condolences to the family of Special Agent Ronald Shurer. Sgt. Shurer was a Medal of Honor recipient and was a shining example of an American Hero. His legacy will live on forever. #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/5BXPVn0p15— Pat Chun (@pat_chun) May 15, 2020
“Ron is always talking about the Apple Cup — what a big game it is, and how much fun it is to cheer for the Cougs,” his wife, Miranda, said before that game. “He used to get super annoyed with me because, for some reason, I keep calling it the Apple Bowl, and he’s like, `No it’s Cup, the Apple Cup.’ ”
Even during his very public battle with cancer, he was repping the Washington State Cougars.
View this post on Instagram
@mshurer is always trying to keep me on a short leash so I don’t hurt myself. She’s got it down to 57ft. We’ve got a plan to get me off oxygen, hopefully, within the next week or two, but for now I’m so glad to have it...despite the look #fcancer #anyonewithlungscangetlungcancer #lungcancer #lungcancerawareness #gocougs
Additionally, Shurer had been honored by Rogers High School in Puyallup, from which he had graduated in 1997 — and at which I have taught for the last decade — with a monument to his achievements. He attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony in December, and spent the day speaking to hundreds of students around campus:
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The best thing I get to do as a recipient is talking to students, and hopefully highlight the values that make up the Medal of Honor. The best version of that is being back at my old high school, 22 years later, and having the opportunity to talk for hours with hundreds of the passionate and thoughtful students who currently walk those same halls. #hometown #puyallup #rampride #medalofhonor
Thank you MOH and Rogers HS graduate Ronald Shurer for taking the time to visit our school in December. You will always be remembered in our wrestling program. Once a Ram, always a Ram. #RIP pic.twitter.com/XivGKQRp3w— Team Gov Wrestling (@TeamGovWrestlin) May 14, 2020
“To be welcomed back with such open arms, it’s been a really cool day,” said Shurer. “To be back in the school after 20 years and seeing flashes of things I remember it’s been really cool.”
Shurer is survived by his wife, Miranda, and his two sons, Tyler and Cameron, as well as his parents, Ronald and Fabiola Shurer.
“He was an inspiration to me,” said Florent Groberg, a fellow Army veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, in a message to The Washington Post. “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. I will miss him.”