The Department of Defense on Friday identified the American service member killed in Afghanistan on July 12 as Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz from Summerville, South Carolina.
Currently, Army officials are trying to determine what the circumstances are surrounding Celiz’ death, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said on Friday. “I can tell you that sergeant first class was a hero,” he said.
- Celiz, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, died from wounds sustained from enemy small arms fire while conducting combat operations at a medevac landing zone in the eastern Paktia province. At the time of his death, he was serving as a battalion mortar platoon sergeant.
- Celiz has been posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
- Celiz has previously deployed to Iraq from 2008 to 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and to Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was on his fifth deployment with the 1st Battalion, 75 Ranger Regiment when he was killed and his seventh since joining the U.S. armed forces.
- Celiz's death came less than a week after Army Cpl. Joseph Maciel was killed during an apparent insider attack on July 7 in the Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan. His death brings the number of U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan in 2018 to a total of four.
- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley will be at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware when the fallen soldier arrives on Saturday afternoon, said Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy, who will also be there. Both men were at Dover last week for Cpl. Joseph Maciel’s dignified transfer ceremony.
“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 75th Ranger Regiment commander Col. Brandon Tegtmeier in a statement on July 13. “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.”
Task & Purpose reporter Jeff Schogol contributed to this story.
UPDATE: This article was updated to clarify the nature of Celiz's deployments; he was on his fifth deployment with the 1st Battalion, 75 Ranger Regiment and his seventh deployment since joining the U.S. armed forces. (Updated 7/13/2018; 10:25 am EST)