The rain is coming down. The sky is dull and dreary. The family embraces each other. However, there is something and someone missing. August 6 is a day that will stay with the Zerbe family for all of their lives, as they mourn their son Daniel at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
On August 6, 2011, Zerbe, a 2001 Red Lion graduate, lost his life along with 30 other Americans in a fatal helicopter crash in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. Zerbe was a member of the Air Force Pararescueman, an elite group of military personnel who specialize in extraction methods and first aid.
“He was the most selfless human being I’ve ever met,” John Smeltzer, Dan’s high school best friend, said. Zerbe’s death was traumatic to him as well. Zerbe was both a football player and a wrestler. Today, his memory lives on with his family, who visits his burial site at Arlington National Cemetery as much as they can.
They also assist with the “That Others May Live” foundation, which offers aid to Air Force Pararescueman and their families. According to the foundation’s website, their goal is to “provide critical support, scholarships, and immediate tragedy assistance for the families of United States Air Force Rescue Heroes who are killed or severely wounded in operational or training missions.”
“It’s something we know Dan would want us to do,” Dan’s father, Terry said. The family
stays local and appreciates all of the support from Red Lion, but every year, more and more local and national support seems to find its way to the Zerbe’s doorstep.