- NATO Kosovo Force
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Odyssey Lightning
- Operation Spartan Shield
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Air Force Capt. Derek Argel
Died May 30, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
28, of Lompoc, Calif.; assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.; killed May 30 in the crash of an Iraqi air force aircraft during a training mission in eastern Diyala province, Iraq. Also killed were Maj. William Downs, Capt. Jeremy Fresques and Staff Sgt. Casey Crate.
Air Force commando from Lompoc dies in Iraq crash
LOMPOC, Calif. — Air Force Capt. Derek Argel was so dedicated to water polo that he started showing up at high school practices as a fifth-grader.
As he grew older, his intense commitment to the military led him to enroll in the Air Force Academy and head to Iraq as a commando.
Argel, 28, died Monday in a plane crash during a training mission in the Diyala province northwest of Baghdad. Three other U.S. troops and an Iraqi pilot were also killed in the Memorial Day crash.
Argel was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron based at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The squadron’s missions were often classified and officials refused to say when he was deployed.
Argel was named most valuable player in his high school water polo league, and played the sport at the Academy, where he graduated in 2000.
“He worked exceptionally hard. He never took anything for granted,” Cabrillo High School athletic director Bob Lawrence said.
He said the 6-foot-6 Argel towered over him. “He always leaned over and hugged me. He doesn’t ever leave without saying he loves me.”
Argel, who graduated from the school in 1995, brought his wife and young son with him when he last returned to Lompoc to attend the high school’s annual alumni game in October. He gave his old teachers photos of him in uniform.
“His life was always secondary to the United States of America,” friend David Riley said.