clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ronald Shurer, Medal of Honor recipient and WSU alumnus, has died at 41

He succumbed to complications from lung cancer.

NFL: NOV 10 Giants at Jets
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

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.

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.

“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.

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:

“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.”