FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- A U.S. Army Ranger was killed in action July 12 in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, during combat operations in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, 32, was born January 12, 1986, in South Carolina. At the time of his death, he was assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

While conducting combat operations in Paktiya province, Celiz was wounded by enemy small arms fire. He was treated immediately and medically evacuated to the nearest medical treatment facility where he died of his wounds.

A native of Summerville, South Carolina, Celiz enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 2007. He completed Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training as a combat engineer at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

His first assignment was with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Calvary Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas, as a combat engineer and team leader. Following this assignment, Celiz was transferred to Company C, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, also at Fort Hood, as a team leader.

A follow-on assignment was with the 530th Engineer Clearance Company, 92nd Engineer Battalion, Fort Stewart, Georgia, where he served as a Sapper squad leader and platoon sergeant.

In 2013, Celiz was selected to serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment as a combat engineer. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia where he served as the battalion master breacher and engineer. In March 2017, he was assigned to Company D where he served as the mortar platoon sergeant.

At the time of his death, Celiz was serving as the battalion mortar platoon sergeant and was in the process of reclassifying to the infantry branch.

"The 75th Ranger Regiment suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Sgt. 1st Class Chris Celiz. The Celiz family has been a critical component of our team and their community in Savannah, Georgia," said Col. Brandon Tegtmeier, Commander, 75th Ranger Regiment. "Chris was a national treasure who led his Rangers with passion, competence, and an infectiously positive attitude no matter the situation. He will be greatly missed."

Celiz deployed from 2008 to 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and from 2011 to 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was on his fifth deployment with 1st Bn., 75th Rgr. Rgt., when he was killed.

"Sgt. 1st Class Chris Celiz was a great Ranger leader, and he will be sorely missed by 1st Ranger Battalion. He had an incredibly positive attitude that inspired Rangers throughout the formation," said Lt. Col. Sean McGee, Commander, 1st Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment. "Sgt. 1st Class Celiz led from the front and always put himself at the decisive point on the battlefield. He was a loving husband and father, and he and his family have been an important part of the fabric that represents 1st Ranger Bn. and the Savannah community."

Celiz's military education includes the Infantry Mortar Leader Course; Senior, Advanced and Basic Leader Courses; Jumpmaster Course; Sapper Leader Course; Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 2; Basic Airborne Course; U.S. Army Ranger Course; Route Reconnaissance Clearance Course-Sapper and the Combat Lifesaver Course.

His awards and decorations include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (2 OLC), Navy Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medals (4 OLC), Meritorious Unit Citation Medals (2), Afghanistan Campaign Medals with Campaign Star (3), Iraq Campaign Medals with Campaign Star (2), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the NATO Medal, the Ranger Tab, the Sapper Tab, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge and the Marksmanship Qualification Badge Expert-Rifle.

Celiz is posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart.