K.I.A. Memorial Day, 2005

Kurdistan Regional Government Representative Attends Iraq Liberation Day Ceremony

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2010 -- The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq's Representative to the United States, Qubad Talabani addressed the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery commemorating Iraq Liberation Day on Friday, April 9. Members of American and Iraqi forces, including members of the Peshmerga, attended the event, alongside veterans and family of those soldiers who have fallen in support of Iraq's freedom.

"On this day, it is appropriate and right for us to commemorate the sacrifices made to liberate Iraq from decades of brutal tyranny under Saddam Hussein ," said Mr. Talabani. "So to be absolutely clear: Iraq thanks you. I thank you. And the people of Iraq's Kurdistan Region, most of all, thank you."

During the ceremony, members of American and Iraqi forces laid wreaths at the joint gravesite of fallen soldiers from the U.S. and Iraq. Ms. Hayyam Sami Mahdi Al-Shather and Ms. Debra Argel-Bastian, whose husband and son, respectively, are buried at the site, attended and spoke at the event. Iraqi Air force Captain Ali Abbas Rubaie, Ms. Al-Shather’s deceased husband, is the only Iraqi buried at Arlington Cemetery.

During her remarks, Ms. Argel-Bastian spoke emotionally about her visit to the Kurdistan Region in 2005. On the trip, she visited the home of a Kurdish widow, who upon seeing a picture of Ms. Argel-Bastian’s son, put it up to a photo of her own son. The Kurdish woman declared both to be her sons—young men whose sacrifices for the Kurdish people made them more family than soldiers.

Other speakers included General Nasier Arkan Abadi, Vice Chief of Staff, Iraqi Joint Forces of the Republic of Iraq; U.S. Brigadier General Judd Lyons, Adjutant General of Nebraska; and Ms. Wendy Hoffman, National President of Blue Star Mothers of America.

This day was an important one to remember and celebrate, as we owe great thanks to those Americans and Iraqis-including and especially Kurds-who have fallen and continue to fight for freedom, democracy and a peaceful future.

Lompoc mom hopes to honor son's memory in trip to Iraq

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.