The military community of Fort Walton Beach suffered a tragic loss over the Memorial Day weekend. While deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Captain Derek Argel of Hurlburt Field's 23rd Special Tactics Squadron was killed in an aircraft accident in the desert of Eastern Iraq on May 31st. A 2001 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Captain Argel was at the very start of what promised to be an extremely successful career as an Air Force Special Tactics Officer. He led from the front and was revered by the men under his command. To those of us fortunate enough to have known him, Derek will be remembered for his easy smile, his hearty laugh, and his self deprecating sense of humor. He excelled at every endeavor that he set out to accomplish. A mountain of a man, his mere presence was enough to bring out the best in others. He was strong but caring, competitive but compassionate, imposing but tender. He was a first-class friend and a loving and devoted husband and father. The world is a less colorful place without him. He has been awarded the Bronze Star with Valor Device for his service to the country in the War on Terrorism. Derek is survived by his lovely wife, Wendy and his ten month-old son Logan; his mother, Debra Argel Bastian; his stepfather, Todd Bastian; his brother, John William Argel; and grandmother, Beth Mears. A funeral will be held in Lompoc Cemetery on Friday, June 10, at 1100 in Lompoc CA. In lieu of flowers please send donations to a trust fund established for Logan at: Logan W. Argel, Regions Bank, 400 Racetrack Road, Ft Walton Beach, FL. 32547.