LCDR Alexander Philip "Zeke" ZECHELLA WWII destroyers and a Seabee in Korea Design engineer on the USS Nautilus
Born Aug 11, 1920 in Newport, KY he worked at odd jobs as a young boy to help his family through the great depression. He excelled in both academics and athletics and was named to the state championship football, basketball and track teams. Graduating, president of his class, from Newport High School in 1938 he then attended the University of Kentucky on a football scholarship for one year. He was then awarded and appointment to the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD where he was a member of the football team. Zeke graduated with a degree in engineering in 1943. He married his childhood sweetheart, Jean Millicent Bary on June 24, 1942. He was assigned to the destroyer USS Greer DD-145, as assistant engineering officer, in the north Atlantic during the first part of WWII. He became the XO, second in command, of the USS Ringgold DD-500 at the age of 23 and participated in the Pacific Theater until the end of the war.
He returned home to his family, remained in the Navy, and earned a Masters degree in civil engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1948 while stationed in Long Beach, California. Zechella utilized his engineering knowledge while he was in charge of construction projects at Navy bases in Alaska and spent two tours of duty in the Aleutian Islands on Adak, where Zeke was the resident officer in charge of constructing new officers quarters. Before and during construction the family lived in a Quonset Hut, which was quite an adventure! He served with the Seabees during the Korean War and after many moves and tours of duty Zeke resigned from the Navy as a Lt Commander in 1953.
Zeke then, began a very distinguished career with Westinghouse Electric Corporation as a pioneer in the field of nuclear power. He worked as a design engineer on the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered submarine, then was instrumental in the building of the USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. For the Enterprise, he was responsible for building the prototype engineering plant, then installed the ship's eight nuclear reactors, on the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, in Newport News, VA.
Alexander Philip "Zeke" Zechella, 89, passed away August 15, 2009, after an extended illness. He was a member of the "Greatest Generation" and son of Italian immigrants, Nicholas and Cecelia Rizzi Zechella. He took great pride in being an American and made the most of what this country had to offer.
Other Memories Zeke Zechella wanted to become a doctor and received a football scholarship to the University of Kentucky. During his first year there, he realized he could not pay for medical school, so he secured an appointment to the United States Naval Academy. He played football and graduated in 1943, was commissioned an Ensign and served on Destroyers in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters during World War II.