An Army Ranger and South Carolina native was killed Thursday in combat in Afghanistan, according to a statement from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, 32, of Summerville, died during a combat operation in Paktia province as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, which is aimed at supporting Afghanistan’s troops and fighting terrorism, according to the statement.
Celiz was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal posthumously, according to the statement.
The South Carolina native enlisted in September 2007, and began his career as a combat engineer after basic training, according to the statement. In 2013, he was chosen to serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia.
He was serving as the battalion mortar platoon sergeant at the time of his death, according to the statement. It was his fifth deployment.
“Sgt. 1st Class Chris Celiz was a great Ranger leader, and he will be sorely missed by 1st Ranger Battalion,” said Lt. Col. Sean McGee, Commander, 1st Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment. “He had an incredibly positive attitude that inspired Rangers throughout the formation.”
Celiz leaves a wife and children, according to the statement.
“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.”