The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers compassionate care to all those grieving the death of a loved one serving in our Armed Forces. Since 1994, TAPS has provided comfort and hope 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources, all at no cost to surviving families and loved ones. On November 1, 2013, teams4taps was launched – an initiative to create meaningful opportunities for families of the fallen to engage with the teams they cheered for with their fallen hero. Former official Bob Delaney, and now NBA’s Vice President of Referee Development and Performance introduced USPA Umpires, LLC to TAPS after an umpire meeting with 25 USPA professional umpires at the Lake Worth, Florida, offices in the spring of 2016. The NBA along with many other sport associations bring a TAPS family to a sports event, where the family is introduced to the officials and then watches the game.

USPA Umpires, LLC partnered with TAPS to bring the surviving family of Captain Derek Argel to watch polo on August 18-19 at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club in Carpinteria, California. Mother Debra Argel-Bastian, step-father Todd Bastian, nephew Derek Argel and mother Joelle Jacobs were treated to a spectacular viewing of a 2018 Silver Air Pacific Coast Open game. It was a beautiful day at the club and all fans experienced a lively match.

Bob Delaney speaking with Club President and Lucchese team owner John Muse.
Bob Delaney speaking with Club President and Lucchese team owner John Muse. ©David Lomisnka.

Captain Derek Argel, a Special Tactics Officer assigned to the 23d Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida, perished on May 30, 2005, in the crash of an Iraqi Air Force SL7 reconnaissance/transport plane. Captain Argel was participating in an operational mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom when the aircraft crashed in the Divala Province of Iraq about 80 miles northeast of Baghdad. Captain Argel was born in Lompoc, California, and attended Carrillo High School where he played water polo and was named 1994 league MVP. He continued his water polo career at the United States Air Force Academy. Upon graduation in 2001, he entered into the Combat Control training pipeline, earning the red beret of a Special Tactics Officer in 2003.

Following his graduation from Class 06 of the Advanced Skills Training course at Hurlburt Field, Captain Argel was assigned to the 23d Special Tactics Squadron, making his first operational deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq. Captain Argel’s awards include the Bronze Star with Valor Device, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Medal.

Umpire Manager Maggie Mitchell along with USPA Umpires Julian Appleby, Fergus Gould and Kimo Huddleston, Head Umpire Instructor Steve Lane and Former Official Bob Delaney joined the TAPS participants on the field to share the game of polo and commemorate the life of Captain Argel. “Having come from a military family myself, I’m am very grateful for the chance to give back to the Armed Forces,” said Mitchell. “On behalf of USPA Umpires, LLC it was wonderful to work with the TAPS organization alongside Bob Delaney and bring the Argel-Bastain family, the loved ones of a fallen American hero, to the Pacific Coast Open.”