FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Building 6111, a two-story Army Warrior Restaurant in the heart of the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment’s barracks, now bears the name of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz —a combat engineer killed in 2018, while serving in Afghanistan.
In 2021, Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. In the official citation, the president stated, “the sergeant knew his time was critical to get his wounded teammate loaded and treated, so he once again, knowingly and willingly stepped into the enemy’s crosshairs.”
During a dedication ceremony Monday afternoon to commemorate Celiz Hall’s new name and unveil a granite monument placed in front of the facility, Col. Joseph Goetz, U.S. Army Engineer School commandant, said, “it is a privilege to stand before you and share the story of an extraordinary individual, who’s legacy will continue to inspire the thousands of Engineer Soldiers that come through this building.”
Celiz, a Summerville, South Carolina, native, enlisted in the Army in 2006, and completed one station unit training as a combat engineer here at Fort Leonard Wood.
He 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 the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, when he was killed.
According to the official citation, while leading a special purpose unit in an operation to clear an area of enemy forces, a large enemy force attacked. Throughout the engagement, Celiz significantly changed the course of battle by repeatedly placing himself in extreme danger to protect his team, defeat the enemy, and it ultimately cost him his life.
“He chose the lives and safety of others over his own — professing in an instant the values by which we say we will live our lives,” Goetz said. “Today, we remember Sgt. 1st Class Celiz for the life he lived and the inspiration he continues to provide.”
Goetz said Celiz Hall now stands as a tribute, “to his legacy. It symbolizes our commitment to never forget the sacrifices of our heroes and it stands as a reminder to future generations of the values we hold dear — duty, honor and selflessness.”
Guest speaker, Sgt. 1st Class Omar Melendez, from the 75th Ranger Regiment, said Celiz was a perfect example of the American spirit.
“Chris enjoyed coming to work every day. He understood that it was his job to make you 1 percent better every day,” Melendez said. “This dining facility behind me is now hallowed grounds. It is a holy land of sorts. Thousands of people are going to walk through here every day trying to be 1 percent better. We owe them the same leadership that Sgt. 1st Class Celiz gave me and every noncommissioned officer and Soldier his life ever touched.”
A dedication ceremony for close family and friends, was also held Monday in Sapper Memorial Grove to unveil Celiz’s addition to the Medal of Honor plaque wall.
Click here to read Celiz’s complete Medal of Honor citation.