President Donald J. Trump awards the Medal of Honor to former Army medic Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer, during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Monday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 1 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor on Monday to a former U.S. Army medic who rendered aid to troops during a firefight in an Afghan valley in 2008.
Trump opened the ceremony for former Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II in the East Room of the White House by stating it was a "proud and special day" at the White House. The Afghanistan war veteran works with the U.S. Secret Service.
The president introduced Shurer's wife, Miranda Shurer, and sons, Cameron, 10, and Tyler,7, as he recounted the story of how he informed Shurer he would receive the medal and praised him for his bravery.
"We stand in awe of your father's courage," Trump said to Shurer's sons. "Today he joins the world's most elite gathering of heroes."
Shurer was honored for assisting teammates during combat with Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin in the Shok Valley in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan on April 6, 2008.
He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions, but after review military officials decided to upgrade it to a Medal of Honor.
The Special Operations Task Force's mission Shurer took part in was to kill or capture the leader of the militant group, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, but they came under fire as they made their way through the valley. Another element of the team also came under fire at a separate location, some of whom were critically hurt.
"With disregard for his safety, Shurer moved quickly through a hail of bullets toward the base of the mountain to reach the pinned-down forward element," the U.S. Army said.
"After providing aid, Shurer spent the next hour fighting across several hundred meters and killing multiple insurgents. Eventually, Shurer arrived to support the pinned down element and immediately rendered aid to four critically wounded U.S. units and 10 injured commandos until teammates arrived."
The Army said Shurer saved the lives of all the teammates he treated despite being shot in the arm. He also assisted evacuating three teammates who couldn't walk down a near-vertical 60-foot cliff while taking fire.
"Not a single American died in that brutal battle thanks in great measure to Ron's heroic actions," Trump said.
Trump noted that Shurer was rejected due to a health condition when he first applied to join the military, but applied again following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was ultimately accepted.
"I can't believe they rejected you," Trump said. "Boy that was a bad mistake, but they made up for it."
Trump also mentioned that Shurer has been facing "a very tough battle with cancer" since about a year ago.
"He's braved, battled, worked, he's done everything he can," Trump said. "That cancer, he's been fighting it every single day with courage and with strength and he's a warrior."
The president praised Shurer as a fighter, father and role model before presenting him with the award.
"Ron our hearts are filled with gratitude and joy as we prepare to engrave your name alongside of America's greatest heroes," Trump said. "It is my honor and privilege along with [Vice President Mike Pence] and all of these incredible warriors in front of me to present you with the Congressional Medal of Honor."