Jewish Army Ranger posthumously awarded Medal of Honor by Biden

Sgt. First Class Christopher Celiz was posthumously awarded the US armed forces' highest honor on Thursday for giving his life to save a fellow soldier during a 2018 operation in Afghanistan.

United States Army Sergeant First Class Christopher A. Celiz's widow Katherine Celiz and daughter Shannon Celiz accept his Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry from U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington, US, December 16, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)
United States Army Sergeant First Class Christopher A. Celiz's widow Katherine Celiz and daughter Shannon Celiz accept his Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry from U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington, US, December 16, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

Sgt. First Class Christopher Celiz on Thursday became the 18th Jewish American to receive the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor of the US Armed Forces.

Celiz, born in South Carolina in 1986, participated in JROTC at Summerville High School, where he met his future wife, Katherine, according to Jewish War Veterans of the USA.

Celiz was posthumously awarded the medal for "his acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the leader of a special operations unit comprised of partnered forces and members of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, on July 12, 2018, in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan," the White House said in a statement on its website.

Celiz led a mission in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, to clear an area in order to hinder future attacks on friendly forces, facing heavy resistance from hostiles. When the hostiles attacked, Celiz put himself in the line of fire in order to get a heavy weapon, providing an opening for allied forces to treat a critically wounded soldier.

 United States Army Medal of Honor (credit: Wikimedia Commons) United States Army Medal of Honor (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

When a helicopter arrived to evacuate the soldier, it came under heavy fire. At that point, Celiz again exposed himself to enemy fire in order to protect the servicemembers on board, standing between the cockpit and the enemy.

He was then hit by incoming fire, but motioned for the helicopter to leave, saving the wounded soldier's life. Celiz died of his wounds at the age of 32.

Celiz was survived by his wife Katherine and their daughter Shannon, who was 8 years old at the time he was killed in action. On Thursday, they accepted the medal from US President Joe Biden on Christopher's behalf.