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Naval officer celebrates promotion on Captiva Island

By Staff | Sep 17, 2011

Zoah Scheneman, pictured with his grandfather Chester Sheneman, at Jensen’s Twin Palms on Captiva Island, celebrates his promotion from Lieutenant Commander to Commander in the United States Navy. A native of Southwest Florida, Zoah has spent the past 24 years serving in the military and chose to enjoy this remarkable occasion with friends and family.

Zoah Scheneman has childhood memories of spending time on the water from Lake Erie to the waters of Southwest Florida usually fishing with his grandfather. At 10 years old, Zoah guided the waters with his grandpa and a compass from Lake Erie to Canada.

They made it, he said.

It would be seven years later when Zoah joined the military. He spent 9 years as an operations specialist, attaining the rank of First Class Petty Officer. He had enlisted tours in USS Wisconsin (BB-64) deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield and Storm, USS Anzio (CG-68), and Commander Carrier Group Eight, deployed with the Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group.

Following his commission in 1996, his Surface Warfare tours, of which he now has 22 years experience, include gunner officer and ship’s training officer in USS Briscoe (DD-977) serving as a boarding officer enforcing United Nation’s Sanctions for three years. In 2003, he completed a bachelor of science degree in information systems at Old Dominican University.

His career continued the following year as a student in the U.S. Naval War College, and earned a master’s degree in national security affairs. He conducted research as a member of Halsey Group Charlie; Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense. Since 2007, Zoah has been deputy director for Operational Concept Development in Virginia.

“I had no idea it would be a lifelong career,” he said as he sat at the picnic table at Jensen’s Twin Palm Marina on Captiva Island.

Zoah was “back home in Southwest Florida” to celebrate an occasion that usually takes place in what he called, “dank government offices, with a raise of the right hand to a senior officer and repeat of an oath.”

He was being promoted to Commander from Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy.

“It is an exciting personal achievement and something that will be so much more meaningful to celebrate with family and friends,” Zoah said about his decision to hold the ceremony at place that supports organizations like the Operation Open Arms. “My parents have known the Jensens for about 30 years and they are great patriots.”

The promotion is a move to a more senior field grade officer within the Navy and noted with gold leaf shaped embellishments on the shoulders of the uniform. Zoah’s grandfather and daughter will be at his side to remove the old insignia and cover and place on the new.

“My grandfather taught me many life lessons while fishing,” he said. “After a culmination of 24 years in the military, (the promotion ceremony) is about bringing family together and expressing my appreciation for their support throughout the years.”

A lifetime supporter of Zoah is his grandfather, Chester, who is now 87 years old. The pair share memories of fishing boats to navy ships, but his grandfather feels blessed to have Zoah as his grandson.

“He would always tell me ‘keep pluggin’ when we were out fishing,” Zoah recalled. “He wanted me to try and catch more fish’keep pluggin’ he would say.”

Zoah will “keep pluggin.” After the promotion, he will continue his prospective executive officer/Commanding Officer training to be completed in February 2012 and then report to the USS Mahan DDG-72 as executive officer.

“After serving as executive officer for a year and a half, I will then ‘fleet up’ in Mahan as commanding officer,” Zoah explained. “The Mahan is scheduled to get a ballistic missile defense upgrade shortly after I report.”

He will more than likely then deploy to the Mediterranean in support of President Barack Obama’s ordered Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense in Europe. Zoah participated in a “think tank” for a year at the Naval War College, contemplating the pieces and coordination of this defensive structure and has worked for the last three years, in small part, to “operationalize” this vision with the services and NATO countries and partners.

“So, it will be a great honor to execute in Mahan,” he said.

But back on Captiva Island, following the ceremony, Zoah will report to the Marching Mullet Band, for which he will proudly carry the American flag down Andy Rosse Lane to the Mucky Duck restaurant for the sunset followed by a Naval tradition the wetting down.

“You take the difference of one month’s pay raise and throw a party,” Zoah said.

More than 25 of his closest friends and family were at Jensen’s Twin Palms to help Zoah commemorate this remarkable occasion. Longtime friend Neil Funtanilla with the Missile Defense Agency said it was honor to be the Master of Ceremony.

“I’m really here to keep (Zoah) on trackfocused,” he said. “When family in uniform asks you for a favor, you happily accept.”