News: Pool memorialization ceremony honors SOF hero
Story by Senior Airman Alexxis Mercer
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - Air Commandos with the 27th Special Operations Wing gathered during the Memorial Holiday weekend for a memorialization ceremony to honor a fallen service member at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., May 27.
The DZ Pool was named in remembrance of Daniel L. Zerbe, a pararescueman who formally served under Air Force Special Operations Command and perished in the line of duty.
"We are thankful to have Tech. Sgt. Daniel Zerbe's mother and sister with us here today," said Col. Buck Elton, 27th SOW commander. "We are grateful to the entire Zerbe family for allowing us permission to memorialize this pool in honor of a true hero, an Air Commando and a pararescueman."
Zerbe was born in Chambersburg, Pa., June 27, 1983. After graduating from high school in June 2001, Zerbe enlisted in the Air Force and arrived at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in August 2001.
After completing Basic Military Training, he immediately entered the pararescue training course. Over the next 24 months, Zerbe completed numerous Air Force and joint service training schools such as Army Airborne School, Air Force Survival School, Special Forces Combat Dive Course, Special Forces Military Freefall School, Paramedic School, and Air Force Pararescue School.
In June 2004, Zerbe officially completed pararescue training and was assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Shortly after his arrival at the squadron, Zerbe completed the first of two deployments in support of the Global War on Terror. The pararescueman also served as an astronaut recovery team member in support of NASA's transoceanic abort landing sites and became a static-line jumpmaster and dive supervisor.
"His friends say he was a complete joy to be around because he loved his job and his life," Elton continued. "He was smart, funny, caring and courageous. He absolutely loved being a PJ and selflessly serving his nation so that others may live."
On Aug. 6, 2011, Zerbe was assigned to an elite joint special operations team executing a helicopter assault into the Tangi Valley, Wardak province of Afghanistan. While approaching an objective, the team's CH-47 helicopter was shot down.
Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe was killed in action that night, along with fellow military members. He is survived by his parents Terry and Susan Zerbe, his brother Christopher, and his sister Megan; Zerbe was 28 years old.
The noncommissioned officer's official decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, the Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, the Aerial Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.
Zerbe was a static-line jumpmaster and dive supervisor; he was named the Air Force Pararescue Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for 2010.
"Today, all around our great nation, we remember the sacrifices of the fallen heroes; including the more than 2,200 service members killed in Afghanistan and the more than 1.2 million American military members who have fallen," Elton stated. "Today we honor our PJ hero with this pool memorialization; our nation owes the Zerbe family a debt of gratitude that we will never fully be able to repay. His name on this pool will help all of Cannon's Air Commandos remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion to protect what we cherish the most."