Ron Shurer's life was remembered Tuesday as a many-chaptered love story of selfless giving -- to his wife and family; to his faith; to those who battled with him against cancer; and to his country in the Secret Service, and as a soldier who earned the Medal of Honor.
"We are gathered today during unprecedented times to celebrate an unprecedented man ... my husband, my best friend, our hero," Shurer's wife Miranda said at the funeral mass that preceded the full honors burial for Shurer at Arlington National Cemetery.
Romance was not exactly a strong suit for her combat medic husband during their courtship, she said at services at the Church of the Nativity in Burke, Virginia.
"I was telling the boys [Cameron, 12, and Tyler, 9] the other day about how Ron gave me a great big teddy bear during our first Christmas together. Sometimes he would use that teddy bear to practice checking for wounds and calling in a helicopter evac. That was pretty adorable," she said.
What he may have lacked on the romantic side, he made up for in substance, Miranda said of her husband, who died of cancer May 14 at age 41.
"He wanted to make a difference in the world and he studied hard because he wanted to be ready to do everything possible to help his teammates. He was the kind of person who gave 100% of himself, and that's what I wanted in a future husband," she said. "He was funny and smart and fun to be around, and he pushed hard every day to be the best version of himself."
The best version was all that members of Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 ever saw in Shurer, said Sgt. Maj. Matt Williams, who also earned the Medal of Honor for his actions with Shurer in the Battle of Shok Valley on April 6, 2008, in Afghanistan's Nuristan province.
Shurer "was a mentor first, and then a teammate and then a friend. He took me in and kind of showed me the ropes. He didn't treat me as the new guy," Williams said.
He joked of how they would work out together: "He was gonna make me fast and I was gonna make him big. We failed at both."
"I was there that day and I saw what he did," Williams said of the Shok Valley firefight. "Ron was the type of guy who would do anything for anybody and he always put himself last."
In the battle, then-Staff Sgt. Shurer repeatedly exposed himself to fire to tend to the wounded, lowering several down a cliffside while shielding them with his own body, according to his Medal citation. At one point, an enemy round passed through his helmet and lodged in his arm.
"Having ensured the safety of the wounded, Staff Sergeant Shurer then regained control of his commando squad and rejoined the fight," the citation said. "He continued to lead his troops and emplace security elements until it was time to move to the evacuation landing zone for the helicopter."
In 2009, Shurer left the Army and joined the Secret Service, becoming part of the counter-assault team at the White House to protect the president. Even after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, Shurer continued to report to the White House when his treatments would allow.
At the funeral mass, Father Bob Cilinski said that Shurer invited him as a guest to the White house ceremony where he received the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump on Oct. 1, 2018.
"I've known you for a couple of years. You've never shared that story [of the battle]" Cilinski said he later told Shurer. "Ron, where did you find the strength in that moment of such danger and terror?"
Cilinski said Shurer told him he said a prayer: "Dear God, watch over Miranda and my family and give me the strength to help others."
"He lived out that call to love knowing and believing that you sacrifice for love," Cilinski said.
Shurer's son, Cameron, came to the front of the church for a reading from St. Paul that summed up his father's understanding of the meaning of love:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."
"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.