Sergeant First Class Christopher Celiz: Medal of Honor recipient
Sergeant First Class Christopher A. Celiz was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on December 16, 2021. He served in with 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
Sergeant First Class Celiz was born in Summerville, South Carolina on January 12, 1986. After high school, he studied at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. Then, in 2006, he joined the U.S. Army and trained as a combat engineer. During his career, he deployed several times between 2008 and 2018, including Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. During his time in the military, he received multiple awards for his service, including the Bronze Star, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Joint Service Achievement Medal, amongst others. Read more about his remarkable career with the Army Rangers here.
Actions in Afghanistan
While deployed on July 12, 2018, Sergeant First Class Celiz led a special operations team in Paktia Province, Afghanistan. There, the team collaborated with allied forces to disrupt the advancement of enemy attacks. As with many ops goals in Afghanistan, Celiz's primary target was to prevent future assaults against the government of Afghanistan.
While on assignment in Paktia, Celiz’s team faced an aggressive enemy assault. To protect his team, Sergeant First Class Celiz repeatedly used his body to shield the unit from enemy fire. First, he ran through a barrage of bullets to obtain a heavy weapon system, giving his team an advantage. The weapons system was necessary to help slow enemy fire. Then, thanks to Sergeant First Class Celiz, the special operations unit was able to move to a safer location.
Evac is stalled
Eventually, a military helicopter arrived to evac. Unfortunately, enemy snippers continued their assault. However, the unit was trapped. Then, making matters more complicated, the helicopter was in danger of crashing, too. Sergeant First Class Celiz bravely acted as a shield, standing between the helicopter cockpit and the enemy snipers. The enemy shot him, but he continued to stand in place until the special operations team had boarded and taken off.
Sergeant First Class Celiz’s courage no doubt saved the lives of everyone who boarded the helicopter. His bravery allowed for a safe evacuation. Unfortunately, his wound proved to be fatal, and he died in action. President Biden presented Sergeant First Class Celiz’s spouse, Katherine Celiz, and their daughter Shannon, with his Medal of Honor during a 2021 ceremony. He was the first Jewish American to receive the prestigious honor for service in the Global War on Terrorism.