Back at Red Lion Area Senior High School, Dan Zerbe always seemed to be the guy who could stay cool under stress.
Classmate Rachael Lighty recalled a trip to Ocean City, Md., where a boat Zerbe and some other boys had taken fishing got stuck on a sandbar.
"While all the other guys were freaking out, thinking they were stuck in the ocean, he calmed everyone down by telling a joke," she said.
He helped everyone get out of the boat, push it off the sandbar, and crawl back inside.
That was more than 10 years ago and, in about two months, it'll be a year that Sgt. Dan Zerbe died a soldier in Afghanistan's Tangi Valley.
To show appreciation for the young man he was and the lessons he taught them long before his job was to save his comrades, the class of 2001 is hosting a memorial event Saturday for the Air Force pararescueman.
Zerbe was part of an elite Air Force unit tasked with infiltrating hostile territory to rescue downed pilots and fighting through the enemy to save their comrades if needed. On an Aug. 6 combat operation against the Taliban, the 28-year-old was killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on his helicopter. He was on his seventh deployment.
Active student: Lighty said Zerbe touched the lives of his schoolmates. A vibrant and active student, he lettered in football and wrestling and worked hard to achieve goals.
"Dan was definitely so full-of-life," she said. "He was a jokester, always made friends and talked with everyone."
She said Zerbe, who joined the Air Force immediately after high school, had a "huge heart" and always wanted to have a positive effect on people.
She said she hopes the memorial, which is also a fundraiser for a group that helps families of killed and injured soldiers, gives people who knew Zerbe a place to share memories and celebrate his life while raising money for a good cause.
Thee will be raffles and a silent auction of donated items, including a flag that flew over Afghanistan in honor of Zerbe, Lighty said. Five live local bands - Jonny Chimpo, The Substance, Until Death Do Us Party, The Beaver Street Band, and B Tropical - will perform. Local vendors will sell food.
The sale of tickets and proceeds from food sales will benefit the That Others May Live Foundation, a nonprofit that provides support, scholarships, and tragedy assistance for family members of Air Force veterans who are killed or severely wounded.
The 7-hour event will be held from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Wisehaven Expo and Banquet Center, 2985 East Prospect Road. There will be live music, a silent auction, and food for sale to raise money.
Tickets are $10 presale and $12 at the door.
To order tickets, visit www.thatothersmaylive.org and click on Zerbe's event, under "Upcoming Events."
- Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5436, email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter at @YDYorkCounty.