Ever since U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Daniel Zerbe was a little boy, he was always wearing camouflage.
His mother, Sue Zerbe of Red Lion, says that looking back she should have known he was destined for the military.
She remembers the moment during his senior year at Red Lion Area High School when he announced he wanted to become apararescue jumper in the Air Force.
Zerbe, 28, served for 10 years and was among 30 armed services personnel to
die in an Aug. 6, 2011, helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan.
His friends nominated him to be the 81st inductee in the Leo Club Hall of Fame at Red Lion Area High School, and he will be honored posthumously Friday.
Since their son's death, Terry and Sue Zerbe have learned countless stories of their son's heroic actions as a pararescue jumper.
Zerbe said that if he could just save one life his job was worth it, and his parents now know he was able to save multiple lives.
When they were getting his personal things from his home in North Carolina, his mother said they found a huge safe full of awards he had received that they never knew about.
"He never would have shared that with anyone, because that just wasn't what he would have wanted," Sue Zerbe said. "And I know what he would say about this award. He'd say 'This isn't necessary, I was just doing my job.'"
"But as his parents, we're so proud to tell people what his job really was," she said. "He really was a true hero."
The tribute: A ceremony for Red Lion High School students and faculty at noon Friday will honor the 2001 Red Lion graduate as a distinguished graduate.
The Leo Club will present Zerbe's parents with a framed certificate before the football game at Horn Field that evening.
"It will be emotional, but it's wonderful that his friends did this for him," Sue Zerbe said.
Zerbe's father, Terry, is a 1974 graduate of Red Lion, and his siblings, Christopher and Megan, graduated in 2000 and 2004.
"Zerbe was chosen because he sacrificed his life in Afghanistan," said Ron Fitzkee, former president of the Red Lion Leo Club, the organization that presents the annual award along with the Red Lion Area Senior High School Alumni Organization.
A committee with members of both organizations selects the inductee based on nominations of Red Lion graduates who have served or affected their community in a significant way.
"He has a reputation for his character and conduct through high school, and he was a fine, amiable man," said Fitzkee. "He was willing to serve and give of himself, not just in Afghanistan, but in activities in the school and in all of his service for this country."
-- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or firstname.lastname@example.org