SSG Ronald Shurer, a former medic with Special Forces, will receive the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony on October 1, 2018. The White House made the announcement on Friday, September 21, 2018. He was serving as the senior medical sergeant with Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 in Afghanistan when the team was engaged in a ferocious hours-long fight with insurgents on April 6, 2008.
He is being recognized for his heroic actions on that day. He fought his way up a mountain to provide medical aid to his Special Forces teammates and Afghan Commando counterparts from the 201st Commando Kandak.
The battle that took place on April 6, 2008 was one of the most intense firefights in northeastern Afghanistan. Ten Special Forces Soldiers received Silver Stars for their actions that day. Four of the Green Berets were critically wounded. Senior Airman Zachary Rhyner, the attached Air Force Combat Controller, was awarded the Air Force Cross. An Afghan interpreter was killed during the battle. Multiple air strikes were called in to keep the insurgents at bay.
Shok Valley is located in Nuristan province. It is a remote mountainous location that was never occupied by the Soviets during their stay in Afghanistan. The valley was a base for Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. The detachment’s operation was named Operation Commando Wrath. The HVTs were thought to be located in a village located along a rise of terraced hills that rose above the valley floor.
The SF team’s mission in the Shok Valley was to kill or capture high-value targets (HVTs) of the Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin. After infiltrating by helicopter and approaching the target area the detachment was engaged by the enemy. Rifle fire, RPGs, sniper fire, and machine gun fire forced the unit into a defensive fighting position. Another element more forward to the target location was also pinned down and had suffered multiple casualties. SSG Ronald Shurer, under fire and returning fire, moved to that location to treat the wounded.
SSG Ronald Shurer would spend the next several hours fighting off insurgents and tending to the wounded. During that time he helped evacuate critically wounded teammates down a near-vertical 60-foot cliff while under enemy fire. During the battle he was shot in the helmet and in the arm.
This will be the 2nd Medal of Honor for 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. The first was SSG Robert Miller. The men in the battalion are known as the “Bushmen” and their motto is “Hard times don’t last, hard men do”. Of the 17 Medal of Honors awarded for the Afghanistan conflict – with SSG Shurer’s award – 12 of them will be for actions in Kunar and Nuristan provinces, Afghanistan.
Shurer enlisted in the Army in 2002 and was a resident of Spokane, Washington. He was honorably discharged in 2009 and began a career with the Secret Service. He is now a member of the Secret Service’s Counter Assault Team assigned to the Special Operations Division.
Shok Valley medic to receive Medal of Honor, Army.mil, September 21, 2018.
“Former Bragg soldier to receive the Medal of Honor”, by Drew Brooks, The Fayetteville Observer, September 21, 2018.
Battle of Shok Valley, Wikipedia
“UNSUNG HEROES: 12 Green Berets Who Took on Hundreds in This Epic Afghan Battle”, Task & Purpose, July 28, 2016.
ODA 3336 in the Shok Valley, Defense Media Network, May 20, 2010.
Nightmare in the Shok Valley, by Janice Burton, Army.mil, April 30, 2009.
Book – “No Way Out”, Afghan War News. A review of a book detailing the battle of Shok Valley.
Outlasting the Enemy in Shok Valley, National Geographic, July 8, 2016. Members of ODA 3336 are interviewed about the intense fight in Shok Valley (3 mins).
Special Forces Attack Taliban Fighters, DVIDSHUB, December 17, 2008. 3-min long video depicting air strikes on the target area in Shok Valley
Photo: Photos from U.S. Army article dated Sep 21, 2018 cited above.