US service member killed in Afghanistan marks second American combat death in one week

PHOTO: U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Christopher A. Celiz, 32, pictured in this undated Army handout, was killed in action July 12, 2018, in Paktiya province, Afghanistan, during combat operations in support of Operation Freedoms Sentinel.PlayU.S. Army
WATCH US service member killed in Afghanistan operation

A U.S. soldier was killed in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday due to wounds sustained during a combat operation, according to a release from U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

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On Friday, the soldier was identified as Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz, 32, from Summerville, South Carolina. He is the fourth American combat death in Afghanistan this year and the second in the last week.

The Department of Defense said that Celiz took enemy small arms fire while conducting operations in support of a medical evacuation landing zone in the Zurmat district in Paktiya province.

An Army statement said Celiz "was treated immediately and medically evacuated to the nearest medical treatment facility where he died of his wounds."

Celiz was assigned to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia and was serving as the battalion's mortar platoon sergeant. He enlisted in the Army in September 2007 and was selected to serve as an Army Ranger in 2013. Celiz was on his seventh combat deployment, five of them as an Army Ranger.

This past Saturday, Cpl. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California was killed during an insider attack in Tarin Kowt District in southern Afghanistan. Several service members were also wounded in that attack, but are in stable condition, the military said.

The term "insider attack" refers to attacks carried out against U.S. military personnel by the Afghan troops they are training or advising.

The number of insider attacks peaked at 61 in 2012, but the attacks have become rare after the U.S. military instituted security safeguards to protect American troops.

There are about 14,000 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan, most of them serving as trainers and advisers with the Afghan military in their fight against the Taliban and ISIS.

Army Specialist Gabriel Conde, 22, was killed by Taliban gunfire in a province east of the Afghan capital of Kabul on April 30.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin, 34, was killed in a firefight with ISIS fighters in eastern Afghanistan on January 1.

Celiz's commanders praised his leadership.

He had an incredibly positive attitude that inspired Rangers throughout the formation," said Lt. Col. Sean McGee, Commander of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. "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 Bn. and the Savannah community."