In the Global War on Terror, a number of heroes have risen to the call. United States Army Staff Sergeant (E-6) Ronald J. Shurer II showed his heroism on the battlefield, for which he was awarded the highest military honor in the nation, the prestigious Medal of Honor, by Donald Trump.
When Shurer first attempted to join the United States Marine Corps, he was rejected “due to a medical condition,” which was pancreatitis from a bicycling accident. After terrorists slammed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, he reapplied, and the military decided to allow him to join.
It was a decision they would not regret.
The determined enlisted soldier earned the Green Beret, and become one of the U.S. Army’s elite Special Forces soldiers, joining a brotherhood that had seen hard combat from the jungles of Vietnam to the first Gulf War.
The soldiers of this hardened fraternity formed the tip of America’s formidable spear of military might in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and numerous smaller engagements that became part of the GWoT.
So, this Alaskan man, who had once been denied by the military, found himself supporting Operation Enduring Freedom on April 6, 2008.
His unit, Special Operations Task Force-33, Operational Detachment Alpha 3336, made up of men from the 3rd Special Forces Group, was working with the Afghan National Army’s 1st Company, 201st Commando Battalion in Shok Valley on that day.
There, in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan, a detachment of green berets, along with a combat cameraman and an Air Force Combat Controller, were taking part in a joint raid, hunting terrorist leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin.
The plan had been to raid a terrorist stronghold where Hekmatyar was believed to be.
However, HIG forces spotted the incoming joint force, and had time to take up defensive positions.
When they attempted to infiltrate the terrorist facility, they came under heavy fire from hundreds of terrorists armed with Kalashnikov rifles, various machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
In the initial salvo, the Special Forces interpreter was slain, and an SF Comms Sergeant was badly wounded.
Shurer leapt into action, as the only combat medic on hand, providing aid to wounded American personnel and soldiers as he fought his way up a mountain.
Blessed with close air support and air strikes called in by Senior Airman Zachary Rhyner, the Combat Controller attached to the group, who called in F-15 Eagles and AH-64 Apaches to strike targets, the combat medic moved to treat personnel, and to evacuate the wounded, killing terrorists as he worked.
He carried injured soldiers and lowered them down the mountainside, all while shielding them from enemy fire and various debris with his own body.
As he fought the insurgents and raced against the clock to see American servicemen to safety, he was shot in his helmet and his arm.
When the ODA’s Team Sergeant, Master Sergeant Scott Ford, was hit twice with sniper fire which nearly severed his left arm, Shurer cared for the wounded soldier.
According to Donald Trump’s statement on Monday, Ron Shurer fought the enemy and treated the wounded for more than six hours.
To quote the President, “not a single American died in that brutal battle, in great measure thanks to Ron’s heroic actions.”
After the fight, which was known as Operation Commando Wrath and the Battle of Shok Valley, 10 Green Berets and their attached combat cameraman were awarded with the Silver Cross. SrA Rhyner was awarded the Air Force Cross.
However, for his efforts, for showing the best that the United States military, and even the Green Berets, have to offer, and for conspicuous bravery on a day when heroic acts seemed commonplace, his Silver Star was upgraded to a Medal of Honor.
According to President Trump, around a year ago, the medic was diagnosed with cancer, which he has “braved, battled, worked, he’s done everything he can” to beat.
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu, for which Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart were also awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously, for their decision to take on a horde of Somali militia members who descended upon Michael Durant’s downed Black Hawk helicopter, in hopes that he could be extracted.
On April 6, 2008, Shurer answered the same call to duty, the imperative that no man be left behind and that the life of fellow soldiers, brothers in arms, were to be defended and preserved at any cost.