Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, 32, was deployed with Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment out of Hunter Army Airfield, according to the release.
“While conducting combat operations in Paktiya province, Celiz was wounded by enemy small arms fire,” per a release from U.S. Army Special Operations Command. “He was treated immediately and medically evacuated to the nearest medical treatment facility where he died of his wounds.”
The battalion mortar platoon sergeant posthumously received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal, the release said. Celiz had been preparing to leave the regiment at the time of his death, the release said, to join an infantry unit.
“The 75th Ranger Regiment suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Sgt. 1st Class Chris Celiz," Col. Brandon Tegtmeier, the 75th Ranger Regiment’s commander, said in the release. “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.”
Celiz had previously deployed with 1st Battalion to both Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008 and 2011, respectively, the release said.
His awards and decorations include the Joitn Service Commendation Medal, three Army Commendation medals, five Army Achievement Medals, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with two stars.
“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,” his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Sean McGee, said in the release. “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 Battalion and the Savannah community.”
Celiz is the second soldier killed within a week in Afghanistan, after a force protection infantryman assigned to the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade died following an apparent insider attack on Saturday.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT