Christopher Andrew “Chris” Celiz MOH

b. 12/01/1986 Summerville, South Carolina. d. 12/07/2018 Paktia Province, Afghanistan.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 12/07/2018 Paktia Province, Afghanistan.

Christopher A Celiz MOH

Celiz was born January 12, 1986, in Summerville, South Carolina. He went to Summerville High School, where he took part in Junior ROTC and quickly earned a reputation as a natural-born leader. High school is also where he met his future wife, Katie, although she later told reporters that their paths didn’t cross until both worked at a local grocery store.

In 2004, Celiz attended the military college known as The Citadel. He eventually left in good standing in 2008 to enlist in the Army. A year later, he and his wife were married. At some point, the couple converted to Judaism. They also had a daughter, Shannon, in 2010. Celiz loved riding his Harley motorcycle and playing guitar. His wife said he loved to crack jokes and relished the time he got to spend with his family.

Celiz was selected to join the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2013, and by 2018, he’d deployed several times to both Iraq and Afghanistan. During those deployments, he was always inclusive of others and known to encourage camaraderie.

His selflessness was put to the ultimate test on July 12, 2018, when Celiz was leading a special purpose unit that included 1st Battalion Rangers and partner forces in Afghanistan. The unit was tasked with clearing an area of enemy forces in the Paktia Province to disrupt future attacks against allied forces and the Afghan government.  Around 5 a.m., as they came upon the ruins of an old storage shelter, at least 20 insurgents surrounded their convoy and attacked, critically wounding an ally on the team.

Celiz quickly sprang into action. He intentionally exposed himself to intense enemy fire so he could reach a heavy weapons system, which he turned on the enemy. With the help of his fellow soldiers, Celiz was able to clear a temporary path for his teammates to move their critically injured ally. As a medical helicopter arrived, the enemy turned its fire to the air. Celiz knew how important it was to get their injured comrade onto the chopper, so he put himself between the evacuation team and the heavy insurgent gunfire.

“He really was selflessly body blocking that litter team and that helicopter crew as they were loading the casualty on the bird under a tremendous amount of fire,” recalled 2nd Lt. Garrett White, who was part of the mission that day. As soon as the injured ally was loaded into the helicopter, the carry team ran for cover, but Celiz stayed where he was to continue acting as a human shield and fire back at the enemy. It wasn’t until the helicopter was back in the air that he tried to find cover for himself.

Unfortunately, that’s when enemy fire hit Celiz in the chest. As he fell to the ground, he waved to the helicopter crew to get moving, knowing that if it remained, the chopper could crash, and more lives would be at risk. Reports said that Celiz tried to crawl toward his teammates, but he eventually stopped. When they were able to pull him out of range of the gunfire, they tried calling the helicopter back to collect Celiz, but it was too late. The 32-year-old died that day, but his actions saved the life of his injured comrade, and they likely helped prevent further casualties among his unit and the aircrew.  “He put himself last and everybody else first,” White told the Army News Service.

Celiz’s selflessness earned him the Medal of Honor, which his wife and daughter received on December 16, 2021, from President Joe Biden during a White House ceremony.  Celiz’s name was also added to The Citadel War Memorial in 2018.  A funeral service was held on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, at Congregation Mickve Israel, Savannah, Georgia. His burial location is unknown at this time.



Sergeant First Class Christopher A. Celiz distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while engaged with the enemy in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, on July 12th, 2018. As the leader of a special purpose unit comprised of partnered forces and members of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Sergeant First Class Celiz led an operation to clear an area of enemy forces and thereby disrupt future attacks against the government of Afghanistan and allied forces. Shortly after his team reached their final objectives, a large enemy force attacked, placed effective fire on him and his team, preventing them from maneuvering to counterattack. Realizing the danger the attack posed to his team and the operation, Sergeant First Class Celiz voluntarily exposed himself to intense enemy machine-gun and small-arms fire to retrieve and employ a heavy weapon system, thereby allowing U.S. and partnered forces to regain the initiative, maneuver to a secure location, and begin treatment of a critically wounded partnered force member. As a medical evacuation helicopter arrived, it was immediately engaged by accurate and sustained enemy fire. Knowing how critical it was to quickly load the casualty, Sergeant First Class Celiz willingly exposed himself to heavy enemyfire to direct and lead the evacuation. As the casualty moved from a position of cover and out into intense enemy fire, Sergeant First Class Celiz made a conscious effort to ensure his body acted as a physical shield to his team carrying the casualty and the crew of the aircraft. As the casualty was loaded and Sergeant First Class Celiz’s team returned to cover, he alone remained at the aircraft, returning a high volume of fire and constantly repositioning himself to act as a physical shield to the aircraft and its crew. With his final reposition, Sergeant First Class Celiz placed himself directly between the cockpit and the enemy, ensuring the aircraft was able to depart. As the helicopter lifted off, Sergeant First Class Celiz was hit by enemy fire. Fully aware of his own injury but understanding the peril to the aircraft from the intense enemy machine gun fire, Sergeant First Class Celiz motioned to the aircraft to depart rather than remain behind to load him. His selfless actions saved the life of the evacuated partnered force member and almost certainly prevented further casualties among other members of his team and the aircrew. Throughout the entire engagement, Sergeant First Class Celiz significantly changed the course of battle by repeatedly placing himself in extreme danger to protect his team, defeat the enemy, and it ultimately cost him his life. Sergeant First Class Celiz’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.