A U.S. Army Ranger, who attended The Citadel as part of the class of 2008, is now listed on The Citadel War Memorial among the college’s 760 alumni killed in action while serving their country. According to the United States Army announcement, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz was killed during combat operations in Paktiya province, Afghanistan on July 12, 2018.
Celiz, a native of Summerville, South Carolina, was 32 years old, a husband and a father. Army Special Operations Command reported that Celiz was on his fifth deployment with the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah. He previously deployed from 2008 to 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and from 2011 to 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In 2013, Celiz was selected to serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment as a combat engineer. He was assigned to Headquarters and 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.
At the time of his death, Celiz was serving as the battalion mortar platoon sergeant and was in the process of reclassifying to the infantry branch.
“Sgt. 1st Class Chris Celiz was a great Ranger leader, and he will be sorely missed by 1st Ranger Battalion. He had an incredibly positive attitude that inspired Rangers throughout the formation,” said Lt. Col. Sean McGee, Commander, 1st Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment. “Sgt. 1st Class Celiz led from the front and always put himself at the decisive point on the battlefield. He was a loving husband and father, and he and his family have been an important part of the fabric that represents 1st Ranger Bn. and the Savannah community.”
Celiz’ awards and decorations include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (2 OLC), Navy Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medals (4 OLC), Meritorious Unit Citation Medals (2), Afghanistan Campaign Medals with Campaign Star (3), Iraq Campaign Medals with Campaign Star (2), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the NATO Medal, the Ranger Tab, the Sapper Tab, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge and the Marksmanship Qualification Badge Expert-Rifle. He was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart.
Celiz attended The Citadel from 2004 – 2006, leaving the college in good standing and enlisting in the Army in 2007. The college’s memorandum directing the designation of names for the memorial includes “a person who has graduated from The Citadel or has attended The Citadel provided that he or she left in good standing.”
More information about The Citadel War Memorial
There are ten criteria for the inclusion of names on The Citadel War Memorial, nine of which are those used by the U.S. government in awarding the Purple Heart. The Citadel Board of Visitors added the tenth in recognition of the special nature of the Memorial. The criteria cover Citadel alumni in active military service who were killed, or died after being wounded in any of the following circumstances:
- In action against an enemy of the United States,
- In action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the U.S. Armed Forces are or have been engaged,
- While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing, armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party,
- As a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces,
- As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force,
- As a result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States,
- As a result of military operations while serving outside of the United States as part of a peacekeeping force,
- As the result of action by friendly weapons fire while directly engaged in armed conflict, other than as a result of an act of an enemy of the United States, unless as a result of willful misconduct of the individual,
- While held as a prisoner of war ( or while being taken captive) in the same manner as a former prisoner of war who is wounded on or after that date while held as a prisoner of war, or
- Died from illness/accident while deployed in support of operations under which the above criterial might apply.