Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz, a U.S. Army Ranger from 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, was killed in action on Thursday. He died of wounds sustained by small arms fire in Paktia Province, Afghanistan. Sources say that there were approximately 40 enemy combatants killed in action on the objective. There they were “conducting operations in support of a medical evacuation landing zone in Zurmat district,” according to the DOD press release. He died of his wounds in a medical treatment facility soon thereafter.
Initial reports say that an Afghan soldier was also killed in the engagement, and several more were wounded. As time goes on, more information will become available.
Sgt. 1st Class Celiz was from Summerville, SC. He was 32-years-old. He had actually come from the 7th Calvary Regiment in Ft. Hood, where he was a combat engineer. He later served with the 92nd Engineer Battalion, and then transferred to the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2013. He was the 1st Ranger Battalion’s mortar platoon sergeant. According to the Army press release, he was in the process of re-classing to infantry. This was his fifth deployment with Ranger Battalion, and he had previously served on two other deployments beyond those.
He was a husband and a father.
His service and sacrifice to this nation is undeniable. May he rest in peace.
The commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, Col. Brandon Tegtmeier, said that, “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. 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.”
His military history goes as follows, according the Army:
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 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.”
The Paktia Province is one of the more dangerous areas of the country, and it rests on the eastern border with Pakistan. The Taliban seek safe haven in parts of Pakistan, using it as a base of operations from which they can continue with their campaign against NATO forces in Afghanistan.
This is the fourth U.S. service member to be killed in combat Afghanistan this year, and troops throughout the country continue to run combat operations as time goes on. They are up against both the Taliban and ISIS-K, who are not on amicable terms with one another, but both still present very real and continuous danger to NATO personnel in the country.
The DOD does not release this information until the next of kin (NOK) have been properly notified — as the press release has gone out, it means that his family has been notified on all appropriate channels.
This attack has come relatively quickly after the last American KIA — Cpl. Joseph Maciel, who was killed by an apparent “insider attack.” He hailed from South Gate, California, and was serving with the 3rd Infantry Division out of Ft. Benning. In Afghanistan, Cpl. Maciel was supporting the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, a unit dedicated to training and advising Afghan forces in the area.
Featured image courtesy of the US Army.