Sergeant Celiz, 32, was helping to clear an area of Afghanistan on July 12, 2018, when a large enemy force attacked. He exposed himself to enemy fire, including from heavy machine guns, to retrieve and use a heavy weapons system and help American forces regroup and treat a wounded partner. He shielded the wounded person on the way to a medical helicopter, then put himself between the cockpit and the enemy, suffering and returning heavy fire, to help the helicopter lift off.
He was wounded by the enemy fire, but he motioned for the helicopter to take off anyway.
“He knew he was hit, but he waited for the aircrew to depart without him,” Mr. Biden said. “In the face of extreme danger, he placed the safety of his team and his crew above his own.”
“Christopher Celiz was courage made flesh.”
Sergeant Plumlee was taking a quick photo at his base in Afghanistan on Aug. 28, 2013, when insurgents detonated a car bomb that blew a hole in the base wall. He jumped into a car, raced to the blast with five other soldiers and found 10 enemy fighters pouring into the base wearing explosive vests. His group took rocket fire, and he ran toward it, firing back with his pistol. He killed one insurgent with a grenade and another with a sniper shot that set off the fighter’s explosive vest.
He used his body as a shield and continued moving closer to enemy fighters, despite suffering injuries when they detonated their vests. One blast threw him into a wall, injuring his back. But Sergeant Plumlee still carried a wounded fellow soldier to safety and administered first aid, before helping to organize others to clear and secure the area.
On Thursday, he stood as Mr. Biden clasped the ribbon that hung the Medal of Honor around his neck.
“This recognition has been too long in coming,” Mr. Biden said in honoring him, “delayed for you and your family as well. And no one, no one will forget how you sprang into action when the enemy attacked our base.”
Mr. Biden at several points paused to thank the families of all three honorees for their strength and sacrifice. So did Maj. Gen. Thomas Solhjem, the Army’s chief of chaplains, who opened and closed the ceremony in prayer.
“Bless Master Sergeant Plumlee, the Cashe and Celiz families, as the names of these men are etched into our nation’s proud history,” he said. “May their leadership and legacies mark the truest north for us to seek, and may we all strive to be strong and courageous in the face of challenges that life may bring.”