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

Mortar platoon Sgt. Christopher A. Celiz, under heavy enemy fire, repeatedly shielded his team

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Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz,

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, was on his fifth deployment with the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, when he was killed. DOD, Photos Katie Celiz

A native of Summerville, South Carolina, Celiz 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.

Celiz deployed from 2008 to 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and from 2011 to 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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)

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

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

1ST RANGER BATTALION 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.

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

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.

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.

Finally, the MOH

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