“It’s been said that Chris has never met a stranger, and if you made a connection with him, it was forever.”
On Veterans Day 2022, the Citadel officially welcomed a national hero into the long gray line of veterans.
The South Carolina Military College presented a posthumous diploma and class ring to the family of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, Class of 2008.
Celiz, a native of Summerville, South Carolina, attended the Citadel from 2004 to 2006, leaving college in good standing to join the military in 2007.
“Chris was the guy who made everyone a part of the team,” Citadel president Gen. Glenn Walters, USMC (Retired), 1979, said during the presentation. “His classmates were wondering if he was sleeping. All Citadel alumni knew key people in their company that they could always rely on – Chris was one of them in spades. He and his family took in cadets from out of town and made them feel like home. He was, by all accounts, everything you wanted in a comrade and classmate.
Celiz was selected to serve with the 75th Ranger Regiment as a combat engineer in 2013. At the time of his death, Celiz was serving as the battalion’s mortar platoon sergeant and was in the process of upgrading to the infantry branch . He was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan on July 12, 2018, making the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety of those around him.
For his heroism and selflessness, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2021. His name was also added to the Citadel War Memorial in 2018, along with the other Citadel elders who were killed in action before him.
This is the second posthumous diploma ever presented by La Citadelle. The first was presented in September of this year to the family of Lt. Col. George McMillan, USAAF, ’38, after a change in college policy allowed posthumous graduations to cadets and students who left the college in good standing.