For the first time in its 180-year history, The Citadel will present posthumous degrees to two former cadets who left the college before graduating.
The first degree will be presented on Friday, Sept. 9, to the family of Lt. Col. George McMillan, ’38.
The second will be presented Nov. 11 to the family of Medal of Honor recipient Christopher Celiz, ’08.
A change in college policy — spearheaded by The Citadel Board of Visitors and Provost Sally Selden, Ph.D., SPHR – will allow the Military College of South Carolina to award posthumous, undergraduate degrees to cadets and students in good standing who left the college before graduating.
During a meeting in January 2022, The Citadel BOV approved the first two posthumous degrees to be awarded to McMillan, USAAF, a member of the Class of 1938, and Army Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Celiz, a member of the Class of 2008.
“It is a privilege to have an opportunity to honor two American heroes, both of whom we are proud to welcome fully into The Citadel’s Long Gray Line of alumni,” said Col. Dylan Goff, ’02, chair of the Board of Visitors.
“Both Lt. Col. McMillan and Sgt. 1st Class Celiz — on campus six decades apart — thoroughly represent the service and sacrifice we work to instill in those who join the South Carolina Corps of Cadets.”
McMillan’s degree presentation will be held at 2:45 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9 in Daniel Library.
McMillan — from Winter Garden, Florida — transferred to The Citadel in 1935, after spending a year at Marion Military Institute. At the end of his senior year, he was six credits away from earning his degree when he decided to accept a position in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program.
McMillan decommissioned to join the American Volunteer Group, commonly known as the Flyer Tigers, in China. After returning home, he re-joined the Army Air Forces and served as the commander of the 449th Fighter Squadron before being shot down and killed near Pingxiang, China.
Celiz, a native of Summerville, South Carolina, attended The Citadel from 2004-2006, leaving the college in good standing to join the Army in 2007. He 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 mortar platoon sergeant and was in the process of reclassifying to the infantry branch. He was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan on July 12, 2018. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2021.