Northwestern Press

Sunday, November 17, 2019
Alex Schneck started talking to his petty officer when he was 17. Alex Schneck started talking to his petty officer when he was 17.
Robin Zellner will likely need security clearances before working in the nuclear field. Robin Zellner will likely need security clearances before working in the nuclear field.
Press photos by anna gilgoffShane Keiffer has always looked up to people who work in the military. Press photos by anna gilgoffShane Keiffer has always looked up to people who work in the military.

Three NWL graduates commit to the Navy, Marines

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 by anna gilgoff Special to The Press in School

The call of the Navy and Marines has beckoned three Northwestern Lehigh grads to make a life-changing commitment.

Alex Schneck is one of two 2017 graduates who heeded that call, joining the United States Navy.

Schneck said he volunteered for submarine duty, inspired by a family trip when he visited a submarine in Groton, Conn., in his sophomore year.

“I thought it was really cool,” he said. “I actually like tight spaces [so] I wanted to get stationed on a submarine.”

Schneck will be following in his father’s footsteps. His father served as a machinist mate on an aircraft carrier in the Navy for four years.

“He was stationed in California but his ship went everywhere [though] he mostly talks about South America,” Schneck said. “My dad’s a firefighter and a lot of people he works with were in the military.

“I grew up with the mentality that I wanted to do this.”

Nuclear studies is a likely area of study for Schneck.

“I scored fairly high on the ASVAB’s,” he said. “My petty officer called me and asked if I’d be interested in the nuclear field.

“I’ll need top secret security clearance since I’ll be working with top secret stuff on either nuclear weapons or nuclear power.

“The nuclear field is the second hardest thing to do after Navy SEALs.

“I’ve talked to people who have gone to the nuclear school and they said it is difficult.”

Schneck will ship out July 5 for eight weeks of boot camp at Great Lakes Camp, Ill.

“After that, we go to our A school depending on what your occupation is,” he said. “Once you serve active duty, there’s also four years of Reserve duty.”

Schneck’s connection with the Navy has already started.

“We have delayed entry program meetings every second Tuesday of the month,” he said. “They try to prepare us for boot camp with the Start Guide which tells us everything we need to know for boot camp.

Our Navy has been reduced but President Donald Trump wants to build it up.”

Robin Zellner is also bound for the Navy.

“I’ve never been on a boat but I just always wanted to go into some branch of the military,” she said.

Zellner made her first contact during a regular school day.

“I never really knew what career path [to choose] but a recruiter was actually in school one day, so I went up to talk to him,” she said. “Later I went into the office in Allentown and they answered my questions.”

Events followed quickly after that.

“A day or so later a recruiter came to my house. The following Monday, I took the physical and the ASVABs.”

As with Schneck, nuclear opportunities also came up for Zellner.

“After earning an 88 on the ASVABs my recruiter asked me how [I] would feel about the nuclear field,” Zellner explained. “After boot camp in July, I head to the nuclear school in Goose Creek, S.C., for two years.

“Alex is two or three weeks ahead of me. I then either go for more training or get deployed.

“I can’t really say I’m put off about the Navy being tough. It doesn’t make any difference.

“They’re only going to try to help you be stronger, because they don’t want you to fail.”

Zellner is very comfortable about her choice to enlist.

“I’m a laid-back person,” Zellner said. “It’s not something that really worries me that much.

“Most of my friends were pretty happy and some of them are even proud of my decision. I’m really happy with my decision.

“Ever since they started talking about college, I’ve considered the military.

“My parents are very pleased with my decision to join the Navy. My mom is going to be worried but it’s going to be cool. I look forward to being successful.”

Zellner said being in the Navy definitely has benefits.

“[I won’t have to worry about] all the little things,” Zellner explained. “Just simply not having to worry about where to live, for example. Plus, you have a job in line and you get to travel the world.

“I think I’ll be only a few courses short of a college degree.”

Zellner said she can take college classes.

“As long as I have down time. I do enjoy science courses,” she said.

Shane Keiffer joined the Marines in part because he values “the Marines’ focus on physical fitness, self-reliance and leadership.”

“I’ve always wanted to do law enforcement and a good percentage of police offices were in the military, so it’s preferable to have that training,” he said.

Keiffer is not the first in his family to consider the military option.

“My grandfather and two great-grandfathers were in the military,” he explained. “One was in the Army in World War II. The other was in the Navy in World War II. My grandfather served in Korea.”

Keiffer signed on last Oct. 26.

“A Marine recruiter was [at the high school] and the next day I went to the office in Allentown. I signed my papers the day after that,” he said. “I signed up for infantry. You need people who are willing to do that kind of stuff.”

Keiffer leaves for Parris Island, S.C., on Aug. 14.

“Everybody east of the Mississippi goes there. Everyone living west goes to Camp Pendleton.”

“I scored high on the ASVABs and since I signed up in high school, we’ve been training at Cedar Beach in Allentown every Saturday.

“The recruiters want to make sure we’re ready to leave and do well.”

Keiffer, who has his parents’ blessing, will spend four years on active duty and four years in the Reserves.

“[The Marines] are the best branch,” he said confidently. “They’re the smallest and have the most elite force in the world.”