The 1st Ranger Battalion’s members ran 198 combat missions that resulted in 1,900 terrorists killed or captured in their most recent deployment.
After the deployment, 14 of the Rangers recently received valor awards.
Maj. Gen. Mark Schwartz, deputy commanding general of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, presented the awards at a ceremony earlier this month at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, according to an Army release.
“It is truly an honor to serve with men like you,” Schwartz told them.
The First Ranger Battalion has deployed 22 times in support of the Global War on Terrorism, Schwartz said.
During the deployment, the battalion took part in 198 combat operations in which 1,900 terrorists were killed or captured.
Master Sgt. Phillip Paquette received a Silver Star Medal, the third highest valor award. The 17-year Army veteran has spent his entire career with the 75th Ranger Regiment and commanded a joint task force in Afghanistan.
During an enemy engagement on April 25, 2018, Paquette, “selflessly and with little regard for his own personal safety, exposed himself to enemy fire several times in order to retrieve a casualty, suppress the enemy by direct fire and delivered several danger-close aerial munitions,” according to the citation.
His actions allowed the assault force to eliminate the enemy and move the unit to the helicopter landing zone to be flown out.
“Though the award is an individual award, it’s all about the men serving with me,” Paquette said. “We won’t leave anyone behind. We do what we do for the person to the left and to the right wearing tan berets and scrolls on our left and right sleeves. Serving as a Ranger is a lifelong relationship.”
Schwartz awarded eight Bronze Star medals for valor during the ceremony, including two to Staff Sgt. Nicolas Volk-Perez and he presented one to the 8-year-old Shannon Celez, daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, who gave his life during the deployment.
Celiz was killed in action on July 12, 2018 in Paktiya province. The 32-year-old was assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at the time of his death.
“The 75th Ranger Regiment suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Sgt. 1st Class Chris Celiz. The Celiz family has been a critical component of our team and their community in Savannah, Georgia,” said Col. Brandon Tegtmeier, commander of 75th Ranger Regiment at the time of Celiz’ death. “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.”
Five Rangers received Joint Service Commendation Medals for valor and three were presented Purple Heart medals.
The two-star attributed JSOC’s operational tempo as being responsible for “the ongoing dialogue with the Taliban.”
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.