Ronald J. Shurer II, a Washington State University graduate who received the Medal of Honor in recognition of his valor while deployed in Afghanistan, has passed away.
His passing, following a battle with cancer, was announced Thursday by the U.S. Secret Service, where Shurer served following his military service. He was honored in 2018 with the WSU Board of Regents Distinguished Alumnus Award and was recognized during that year’s Apple Cup, where he hoisted the Cougar flag and reveled in sharing his own family with his WSU family for the first time since leaving Pullman in 2001 to help fight terrorism.
Shurer graduated from WSU with a bachelor’s degree in business economics in 2001. Shortly after enrolling in graduate school at WSU, the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, prompting him to join the U.S. Army after being turned down by another U.S. military branch.
“I couldn’t just sit there,” he told WSU Insider in 2018 of why he kept trying to enlist after his initial rejection. “I knew I had to try again.”
Military service was a family tradition, with both of his parents, as well as his grandfather and great-grandfather serving their country.
Two years after arriving at Fort Bragg in 2003, Shurer was accepted for Special Forces training. He would go on to be trained as a medic, and by 2008 he was a staff sergeant in a unit tasked with hunting down terrorist leaders in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan.
Shurer was recognized with the Medal of Honor for his valor during a mission in the Shok Valley of northeastern Afghanistan. After his unit was attacked by a force of insurgents estimated at more than 200 strong, Shurer tended to his injured comrades and fought at his own peril to treat those most severely wounded.
“Mostly I just kept re‑assessing the situation repeatedly,” Shurer said in 2018. “As the only U.S. medic on the ground, I was constantly asking myself where should I be at, where am I needed. You just have to constantly prioritize your actions, assess conditions, wounds, identify the most pressing needs and keep working down that list.”
Shurer received the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump in 2018. He was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart, among numerous awards and decorations for his service.
On Nov. 16, 2018, Shurer was selected for the WSU Board of Regents Distinguished Alumnus Award. At that year’s Apple Cup game, he hoisted the Cougar flag and was recognized during the game.