Died May 30, 2005
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, 720th Special Tactics Group, Hurlburt Field, Florida
Air Force Capt. Derek Argel died May 30, 2005 when the Iraqi Air Force Comp Air 7SL aircraft that he was aboard crashed during a training mission in eastern Diyala province, Iraq. Also killed were Maj. William Downs, Capt. Jeremy Fresques, and Staff Sgt. Casey Crate. Capt. Argel was stationed with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and was promoted to Captain just hours before his death on May 30th.
In his youth, Derek was so dedicated to water polo that he started showing up at high school practices during the fifth grade. Derek’s former high school athletic director, Bob Lawrence, said that at 6-foot-6, Derek towered over him. “He always leaned over and hugged me. He didn’t ever leave without saying he loved me.” Derek later played the sport at the United States Air Force Academy. He was recruited to the Academy by former head coach, Jeff Heidmous. “I’ll remember Derek most for his undying spirit and his endless sense of humor and contagious laugh,” Jeff said, “Derek was a great man, dedicated to serving his nation at the very tip of the spear.”
Upon graduation from the Academy, Derek entered into the Combat Control training pipeline, earning the Red Beret of a Special Tactics Officer in 2003. He continued his Advanced Skills training at Hurlburt Field, then made his first deployment to Afghanistan, followed by a tour in Iraq. As described by friend, David Riley, “His life was always secondary to the United States of America.”
Capt. Argel’s awards include the Bronze Star with Valor Device, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Medal.
Capt. Derek Argel leaves behind his wife, Wendy; son, Logan; mother, Debra; and brother, John.
Capt. Derek Argel was 28 years old from Lompoc, California
Original portrait was presented October 18, 2014 to Derek’s mother, wife, and son during a special event in Pensacola, Florida, hosted by the Combat Controller Association (CCA).