Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Air Force Capt. Derek Argel

28, of Lompoc, California.
Argel died in the crash of an Iraqi air force aircraft during a training mission in eastern Diyala province. He was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida. Died on May 30, 2005.

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"I did not know Derek personally. However, I did know of him and his great accomplishments while attending school at Cabrillo High. Having been in the special operations community for the Marine Corps and serving along silent professionals, I smiled when I saw Derek’s face “picture of confidence segment of advanced skills training” knowing that I recognized him from High School and that it did not surprise me one bit to learn that he was a captain in the special operations community “silent professional.” He is the kind of individual that is drawn to the community because of the challenges that it brings, countless grueling hours of training, sense of team, and accomplishing a common objective. Water Polo at Cabrillo high school was among the most demanding sports. Water Polo wasn’t for everyone; neither is serving your country in an elite military community of silent professionals. Derek is, in his memory an example of what it is to seek out new and increasing challenges, a leader “Semper Fidelis Derek” did not know you, but I know personally your caliber! And, I swell with pride knowing that I went to high school with one of our Nation’s greatest assets and Heroes! Semper Fi"
Nathaniel Luna of Maryland

"Jun 2005
I first met Derek while playing water polo in high school. However, we were not on the same team, we were arch rivals. He played for Cabrillo and I played for Lompoc High; the infamous cross-town match up: Cabrillo Conquistadors versus the Lompoc Braves. Derek was two years older than me and the rivalry quickly turned to inspiration when I found out that Derek also wanted to go to the Air Force Academy (AFA). I will never forget Derek’s drive and ambition both in and out of the pool. He was so determined to attend the AFA that he went to two preparatory schools, Northwestern Prep and AFA Prep. I too needed additional help to get into the AFA and Derek provided insight about both prep schools. I ended up going to the AFA prep school.
Finally at the AFA, we were now teammates, Derek was a sophomore and I was a freshman. Derek quickly became an older brother and mentor to the freshmen and myself. He never forgot what it was like to be a freshman. Derek would wait after water polo practice to march us to dinner. This was a blessing because it meant we didn’t have to “run the strips” or get yelled at by other upper classmen. Derek was always challenging himself, one summer he went to Mini-BUDS training (similar to SEAL training) and his senior year he took up boxing and entered the Cadet Wing Open. I admire Derek’s determination and hard work ethic. Last I saw Derek was about two years ago at Pope AFB, NC. He was completing Combat Controller (CCT) land training and looked forward to doing what he was trained to do. He still had the good sense of humor and positive outlook. He was the same Derek I remembered and will always remember. To a teammate, Air Force brother, and friend, we will miss you Derek. Here’s a toast…

1st Lieutenant Adam Waite
Lompoc High 1997
Air Force Prep 1998
Air Force Academy 2002"

"On 7 March 2013, I am running a relay in support of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation in memory of Derek. We went to Northwester Prep School together. Check out the "ACSC Warrior Relay" on Facebook if you want to follow along with our event."
Matt Astroth of Hurlburt Field, FL

"Dear Ms Argel Bastian, I've never met your son Derek or anything but I read the book you wrote for your grandson Logan and felt like telling you that it had quite an impact on me. I was looking for a way to do so and I hope you will read this sometime. Your son is by far the most impressive person I've ever read about. Most of his friends and colleagues were talking about a natural leader whom they would have given their lives for without hesitating. I guess a natural leader like him who pushes his team to give it´s best but never judges them is the kind of person the world could use more. I understand that he inspired the people around him because I feel the same way even though I have never met him. I know I didn´t earn much life experience in seventeen years yet but I do know that greatness is something very rare. To achieve it is hard and most people don´t even try or give up along their way. I guess the greatest people were born with it. Maybe it doesn´t mean much to hear this from a strange teenage girl but let me tell you that your son definitely belonged to the last category. It is a shame that such a hero had to leave this world so soon. I hope my English isn´t too bad and you and your family are well. Be sure that your son will never be forgotten. Best Wishes"
Linda Preußler of Dresden, Germany

"I served with Derek in Iraq. I was there when they brought his body to Balad Air Base to begin his long trip home. I particpated in the Patriot ceremony that paid tribute to him and his comrades who perished in the crash. This is tough for me because I was there and was intimately involved in the details. Against protocol, I snapped a picture at the Patriot ceremony of the 4 caskets loaded on the C-141 for the trip to Dover AFB. The image that sticks in my mind the most is of his unit chaplain and his commander weeping while kneeling beside the 4 coffins. I am now serving in the ministry counselling military members returning from combat. To Derek's family...I have never forgotten him or the day he left Iraq with his comrades."
Terry Hayes of Kenly, NC

"R.I.P. Hero Argel -we will always remember you and America will never forget you."
Kenna - www.heropaintings.com of Manti, Utah

"Thanks very much for what you have given us, Derek. I miss you and love you a lot. God bless you and your family. Happy Memorial Day 2011.  "
Matt and Jana of Fairfax VA

"Just heard Derek's story at the Restoring Honor Rally. I thank GOD for men like Derek who enlist to help, serve and protect. I pray Logan and Derek's wife Wendy will be provided for and that GOD would comfort his mother and father. Check out the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (Google)."
Marc of Tulsa, OK

"January 12, 2010

To Derek's Family,

I was a classmate of Derek's at Cabrillo High School, being an Air Force brat from Vandenberg AFB. While we were not close friends, I do remember him. How beautiful and heartbreaking that the boy I remembered grew into such a hero. I don't know how much his brave sacrifice must ease your suffering, I hope it does at least by some small measure.

My God (and Derek) bless you and watch over you!"
Kim of Washington DC

"I never want to forget the sacrifices of so many young men and women. I am so proud it makes me cry. I understand in theory only that war is a part of human nature but so is love and caring. I wish I could take the families pain away but I can't. I am committed to loving ALL people, myself and our environment. I am committed to working on my happiness everyday because so many have died for my freedom to live my life. Thank you is not enough but it is all I have. All my love and respect. ogersteiner@yahoo.com

Scott Steiner of Worthington, OH USA

"March 28, 2008
To the family of Capt. Derek Argel:
Derek gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV


"To the family of:Derek Argel I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

"Capt. Argel,
Sir, I would like to say thank you to you and the other men who were on that plane with you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy."
Mike C. of El Paso, Texas

"Hi Ms. Bastein (I believe): I am a Rotary member in Lompoc. I have heard you speak in the past. I would love to have you speak in Nov. 2007 at the Lompoc Rotary Club. Please contact me. My phone is 588-2767 and my email is patrick_chandler@countrywide.com"
Patrick Chandler of Lompoc, Ca

"To the family of Derek Argel,
I saw his story tonight(6/15/07) at work in a magazine. I'm a pediatric nurse/mother and seeing Logan's little face broke my heart. Thank you is not enough for sending your hero to protect our country. I hope this note finds you all well and that your hearts are healing. God Bless and thank you."
Angie Cobb of Kennewick, Wa. USA

"Thank you just isn't enough. You will be remembered always for serving our country, for keeping us safe, for making this world a better place.

Thank you brave family for standing up to speak truth (CNN). Our soldiers have made the ultimate sacrafice. They gave their life for each and every one of us. God bless you. Find comfort and strength in His great love. From a family who knows your suffering,"
Bela of Woodbury, CT

"Derek - You were a true and great friend. Everyone who had the honor of knowing you is truly blessed. God speed brother...Here's a Toast."
Wes of USAFA '01

"Captain Argel, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"We are deeply sorry for your loss. America will forever honor your Hero.
The Courage, Honor, and Valor that your Hero showed will always be remembered.
We are grateful for the sacrifice that was made and we will NEVER FORGET.
God Bless your family and please know that you are not alone.
All of our prayers are with you."
Jennifer and SSGT Larry Mays of Massillon, Ohio

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Derek will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you ALWAYS. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

To Derek's family,
We know your pain, and wish to express our deep sorrow for your loss. Your son is truly a hero and will be known forever for his bravery and willingness to protect our great nation. We pray every day for the families of lost soldiers. God bless and keep you.
'My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit;
God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.' Ps 51:19"
Webster and Ruth Reed (Father and stepmom of Jonathan Ray Reed who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom on January 28, 2005) of Krotz Springs, Louisiana

"Derek.....We miss you buddy.....we can never thank you enough for what you did for our country and I thank you for your friendship over the years.....you were a true friend and patriot.....my thoughts and prayers go out to your family"
Brandon Goble of Fort Collins Colorado


"Thank you Derek Argel, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Capt. Derek Argel:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Derek for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Capt. Derek Argel:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Derek, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on