Sergeant First Class Christopher A. Celiz

hometown

Summerville, South Carolina

Enlistment date

September 9, 2006

Military Occupation (MOS)

Combat Engineer (12B)

Unit

1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment

Deployments

Operation Iraqi Freedom (2008), Operation Enduring Freedom (2011, 2013 and 2014), Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (2015, 2016 and 2018)

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, a native of Summerville, South Carolina, enlisted in the United States Army in September 2006. He completed Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training as a combat engineer (12B) at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Celiz’s first assignment was with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Following this assignment, Celiz was transferred to Company C, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, also at Fort Hood, as a team leader.

Celiz was then assigned to the 530th Engineer Clearance Company, 92nd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, 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 and was assigned to 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.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz helping clear debris with fellow Soldiers following the aftermath of a hurricane. (Photo courtesy of Katie Celiz)

The Celiz family poses for a photo at Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga. in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Katie Celiz)

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz with his family. Celiz and his wife were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. (Photo courtesy of Katie Celiz)

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 the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, when he was killed.

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 Bronze Star Medal with "V" device, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (2 bronze oak leaf clusters), the Navy Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medals (4 bronze oak leaf clusters), the Meritorious Unit Citation Medal (2), the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star (3), the Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star (2), the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Ranger tab, the Sapper tab, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.

Celiz is survived by his spouse, Katie Celiz, and their daughter.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz performs physical training carrying his daughter on his back. On this day, they completed over a mile together. (Photo courtesy of Katie Celiz)

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz poses for a photo with his daughter and dog, Jager, during a hike at Yonah Mountain, in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, Georgia, 2013. This was their first camping trip as a family. (Photo courtesy of Katie Celiz)

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz poses for a photo with his daughter and dog, Jager, during a hike at Yonah Mountain, in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, Georgia, 2013. This was their first camping trip as a family. (Photo courtesy of Katie Celiz)

THE BATTLE

July 12, 2018 | Paktia Province, Afghanistan

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1st Ranger Battalion History

Read Unit History

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while engaging with the enemy in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018.

As the leader of a special operations unit comprised of partnered forces and members of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Celiz led an operation to clear an area of enemy forces and thereby disrupt future attacks against the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Shortly after his team reached their initial objective, a large enemy force attacked. The enemy placed effective fire on him and his team, preventing them from maneuvering to a counterattack. Realizing the danger to his team and the operation, Celiz voluntarily exposed himself to intense enemy machine-gun and small-arms fire.

Under fire, he retrieved and employed a heavy weapon system, thereby allowing U.S. and partnered forces to regain the initiative, maneuver to a secure location, and begin treating a critically wounded partnered force member.

“Courage, to me, is putting your life on the line to save the life of another, as demonstrated by Sfc. Chris Celiz who died protecting my crew.

Captain Ben Krzeczowski, the pilot in command of the MEDEVAC mission

As the medical evacuation helicopter arrived, it was immediately engaged by accurate and sustained enemy fire. Knowing how critical it was to quickly load the wounded partner, Celiz willingly exposed himself again to heavy enemy fire so he could take charge to direct and lead the evacuation. As the casualty was moved from a position of cover, Celiz made a conscious effort to ensure his body acted as a physical shield to protect his team, the injured partner and the crew of the aircraft from enemy fire. After the wounded partner was loaded, Celiz's team returned to cover, but he remained with the aircraft, returning a high volume of fire and constantly repositioning himself to act as a physical shield to the aircraft and its crew.

With his final reposition, Celiz placed himself directly between the cockpit and the enemy, ensuring the aircraft was able to depart. Upon the helicopter’s liftoff, Celiz was hit by enemy fire. Fully aware of his injury, but understanding the peril to the aircraft, Celiz motioned to the pilots to depart rather than remain to load him. His selfless actions saved the life of the evacuated partnered force member and almost certainly prevented further casualties among other members of his team and the aircrew. Celiz died as a result of his injuries. His extraordinary heroism and selflessness beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

Throughout the entire engagement, Celiz significantly changed the course of the battle by repeatedly placing himself in extreme danger to protect his team and defeat the enemy.

Ranger

Rangers Lead the Way

The 75th Ranger Regiment is the U.S. Army's premier large-scale special operations force, and it is made up of some of the most elite Soldiers in the world. The Rangers specialize in joint special operations raids and joint forcible entry operations.

Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, and their daughter Shannon, stand as the citation is read before receiving the Medal of Honor from President Joseph R. Biden Jr. during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2021. Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions of valor during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

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Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, and their daughter Shannon, stand as the citation is read before receiving the Medal of Honor from President Joseph R. Biden Jr. during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2021. Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions of valor during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. presents the Medal of Honor to Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, and their daughter Shannon, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2021. Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions of valor during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

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President Joseph R. Biden Jr. presents the Medal of Honor to Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, and their daughter Shannon, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2021. Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions of valor during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

Secretary of the U.S. Army Christine E. Wormuth presents the Medal of Honor plaque to Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, during a Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Dec. 17, 2021. Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions of valor during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

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Secretary of the U.S. Army Christine E. Wormuth presents the Medal of Honor plaque to Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, during a Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Dec. 17, 2021. Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions of valor during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

Secretary of the U.S. Army Christine E. Wormuth, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley present the Medal of Honor flag to Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, during a Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Dec. 17, 2021. Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions of valor during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

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Secretary of the U.S. Army Christine E. Wormuth, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley present the Medal of Honor flag to Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, during a Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Dec. 17, 2021. Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions of valor during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

From left, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of the U.S. Army Christine E. Wormuth; Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley; Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. James C. McConville; and Sgt. Maj. of the U.S. Army Michael A. Grinston participate in a Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Dec. 17, 2021. Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions of valor during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

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From left, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of the U.S. Army Christine E. Wormuth; Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley; Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. James C. McConville; and Sgt. Maj. of the U.S. Army Michael A. Grinston participate in a Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Dec. 17, 2021. Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions of valor during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

From left, Secretary of the U.S. Army Christine E. Wormuth; Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III; U.S. Army Master Sgt. Earl D. Plumlee; Kasinal Cashe White, sister of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe; Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz; Tamara Cashe, spouse of Sgt. 1st Class Cashe; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley; Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. James C. McConville; and Sgt. Maj. of the U.S. Army Michael A. Grinston participate in a Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Dec. 17, 2021. The ceremony was held in honor of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz and Master Sgt. Earl D. Plumlee. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

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From left, Secretary of the U.S. Army Christine E. Wormuth; Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III; U.S. Army Master Sgt. Earl D. Plumlee; Kasinal Cashe White, sister of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe; Katherine Celiz, spouse of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz; Tamara Cashe, spouse of Sgt. 1st Class Cashe; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley; Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. James C. McConville; and Sgt. Maj. of the U.S. Army Michael A. Grinston participate in a Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Dec. 17, 2021. The ceremony was held in honor of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz and Master Sgt. Earl D. Plumlee. (U.S. Army photo by Laura Buchta)

“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.”

President Joseph R. Biden

White House Ceremony, December 16, 2021