Soldier Honored: Derek M. Argel
Branch of Service: Air Force
Captain Derek M. Argel, 28, of Lompoc, Calif., was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida and served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On May 30, 2005, Capt. Argel was killed when their plane crashed during a training mission in the Diyala province, Iraq.
Capt. Argel was named most valuable player in his Cabrillo High School water polo league. He continued playing while attending the Air Force Academy. Following his graduation in 2000, Capt. Argel entered the Combat Control training pipeline, earning the Red Beret of a Special Tactics Officer in 2003. His awards include a Bronze Star with Valor Device, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Medal.
As a boy, Capt. Argel was so dedicated to water polo that he started showing up at the high school practices in fifth grade. His 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.” Capt. Argel was later recruited to the Air Force Academy’s water polo team by former head coach, Jeff Heidmous. “I’ll remember Derek most for his undying spirit, his endless sense of humor, and his contagious laugh. Derek was a great man, dedicated to serving his nation at the very tip of the spear.”
Capt. Argel’s son is a Folds of Honor Scholarship recipient.