Capt Derek M. Argel
May 30, 2005
Operation Iraqi Freedom
On May 30, 2005, Captain Fresques, Captain Argel, and Staff Sergeant Crate, all from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron (23 STS), were accompanying Major William B. Downs of the 6th Special Operations Squadron, and Captain Ali Husam Abass, Iraqi Air Force, aboard a Comp Air 7SL assigned to the 3rd Iraqi Squadron at Kirkuk Regional Air Base. While performing a low pass, a landing, or perhaps an aborted landing, the aircraft impacted the ground near Jalulah, Iraq, killing all on board. Immediately, a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) mission was launched, but there was little left of the aircraft.
Capt. Argel was participating in an operational mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom when the aircraft crashed in the Diyala Province of Iraq about 80 miles northeast of Baghdad.
Capt. Argel was born in Lompoc, California and attended Carrillo High School where he played water polo and was named 1994 league MVP. He continued his water polo career at the United States Air Force Academy. Upon graduation in 2001, he entered into the Combat Control training pipeline, earning the red beret of a Special Tactics Officer in 2003.
Following his graduation from Class 06 of the Advanced Skills Training course at Hurlburt Field, Capt. Argel was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, making his first operational deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq.
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. He was 28 when he gave his life in service to his country.
Capt. Argel is remembered as a physical beast at 6-5, 210, and 4% body fat, but also as an incredibly driven and intelligent leader. He was dedicated to serving his country; he knew he wanted to be an Air Force combat controller since he was a child, and he wanted to go to the Air Force Academy so badly he attended two prep schools after high school to get in. Through training, he set so many records in commando training he had to hold a hunk of driftwood above his head as a handicap.
He is survived by his widow Wendy, son Logan and his mother Debra.