Saturday, August 06, 2011

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe

Remember Our Heroes

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pa.

TSgt Zerbe was assigned to 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, N.C.; died Aug. 6, 2011 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down.

TSgt Zerbe graduated from Red Lion Area High School in 2001, where he wrestled and played football.

He joined the Air Force in August 2001. He served in the Pararescue Unit.

Handpicked after joining the Air Force, candiates for the Special Tactics Squadron must successfully complete three years of arduous training before they can be assigned a unit.

"Out of 100 people who go into that rigorous training, maybe 10 of them will make it out,' said retired Air Force Col. John Carney, who is credited with creating the special tactics units in the 1980s.

Special tactics airmen have one of three specialties: combat weather teams, pararescuemen who serve as front-line combat medics, and combat controllers, who coordinate air support in battle to "put steel on targets," Carney said.

"Essentially, they're running an air traffic control field out of their rucksack," he said.

Friends remembered Zerbe as funny and easy to get along with.

“He could make you laugh no matter what,” said Jean Martin, who dated him after high school.

They remembered Zerbe as DZ, Dingleberry, Zerbo and Uncle Dan.

DZ, short for drop zone and Dan Zerbe. Dingleberry, for the time he fell out of the helicopter door and dangled for a portion of a flight. Zerbo, because someone once mispronounced his name and the guys teased him about it, and Uncle Dan. "That's what our children called him," the service members said. "And we'll make sure they never forget."

Friend, John Smeltzer, recalled playing football together starting in junior high, as well as going fishing, snowboarding and engaging in other outdoor pursuits.
Martin said Zerbe wasn’t the biggest player on the football or wrestling teams, but he worked hard to achieve his goals.

When Smeltzer last spoke with him in June, they talked about life and the birth of Smeltzer’s daughter. He has struggled to come to terms with his friend’s death.
“You wouldn't think this is going to come,” he said.

TSgt Zerbe was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

TSgt Zerby is survived by his parents, Susan and Terry; siblings, Christopher and Megan; and long time girlfriend, Amanda.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe was killed in action on 8/6/11.

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