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Former Green Beret Receives Medal of Honor

Oct. 2, 2018 | BY Devon L. Suits
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Former Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II received the Medal of Honor from President Donald J. Trump at an Oct. 1 ceremony for his heroic actions during a 2008 operation in Shok Valley, Afghanistan. 

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Shurer, who now serves as a member of the Secret Service Counter Assault Team, enlisted as a medic with the U.S. Army after the Sept. 11 attacks. On April 6, 2008, during his second deployment, Shurer put his life on the line to save the lives of four Special Forces soldiers and 10 Afghan commandos.

A soldier sits atop a desert-colored Humvee in Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan
Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer conducts a mission in Afghanistan, circa 2006. Courtesy photo.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 181002-D-EE902-5002

"Ron was among the few dozen Special Forces [soldiers] and 100 Afghan commandos that dropped by helicopter into Shok Valley — a rocky, barren valley, far away from any reinforcements," Trump said. "Ron was the only medic in the team, and while he was still at the base of the mountain, the first team began to scale the cliffs toward the village."

As the lead element moved up the mountain, more than 200 well-trained enemies ambushed the American and Afghan forces. A storm of rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun and sniper fire rained down on the joint force.

He began treating his team’s injuries immediately. As he would treat one, the call would come down that more were critically wounded.

A soldier stands with his weapon in  Afghanistan.
Standing Soldier
Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer poses with his weapon in Gardez, Afghanistan, August 2006. Courtesy photo
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 181002-D-EE902-5003

Through all the chaos, there was a brief moment that "Ron realized that this was probably [going to be the] end," Trump said, adding that Shurer just said a prayer, "asking that his wife and son would be OK with what was going to happen."

Leaving the scene, Shurer and a team of commandos and Special Forces soldiers used some tubular nylon webbing to help lower the casualties down the side of the mountain.

"When they reached the base of the mountain, Ron raced to each patient, giving them lifesaving care. They were bleeding profusely, and [he prepared] them to be evacuated by helicopter," Trump said. "Ron was not done yet. He charged back to the mountain … and then rejoined the fight.”

As a result of his actions, not a single American died in the battle.

President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor Ceremony
President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to former Army Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II Oct. 1, 2018, in the East Room of the White House. White House photo by Shealah Craighead
Photo By: Shealah Craighead
VIRIN: 181002-D-EE902-5001

He received the Medal of Honor at the White House surrounded by family, friends and many of his team members from the battle.

Five Things You Didn't Know About the Medal of Honor

1
More than 3,400 service members have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
2
3
Versions of the Medal of Honor were created for the Army and Navy in 1862, but Congress did not authorize the decoration until 1863.
4
There are three versions of the medal. One each for the Army, Navy and Air Force. Marines and Coast Guardsmen receive the Navy version.
5
Recipients receive invitations to future presidential inaugurations and inaugural balls.