The son of a Lawrence couple has been named commander of a 292-foot nuclear-powered submarine.
Cmdr. Randel L. Zeller, son of Leonard and Kathy Zeller, 105 Rockfence Pl., took over the command of the USS Gato from Cmdr. John B. Allen during a ceremony March 24 at the Nautilus Memorial in Groton, Conn.
The change of command ceremony was "beautiful" and typical of military traditions, Mrs. Zeller said.
She said her son followed in the footsteps of his career military father, who served in the Army. The family moved frequently and was living in Maryland when he graduated from high school and was admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy. He went to the academy and his parents moved to Lawrence.
Randel Zeller earned a bachelor's degree in marine engineering at the academy. He attended nuclear power training in Orlando, Fla., and Windsor Locks, Conn. After basic submarine officer training, he reported to the USS Groton in 1977 for division officer duty. He served as submarine training department head at the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center Atlantic in Norfolk, Va., beginning in 1980.
He completed the submarine officer advanced course in 1983 and reported as engineer on the USS Phoenix.
His next tour of duty began in 1985, when he reported to staff on the USS Coral Seas as ASW officer. In 1987, he returned to the USS Groton as executive officer until 1990.
He graduated from the Naval War College in 1991.
Zeller, 39, has earned the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Sea Service Ribbon.
He received master's degrees in management and in national security and strategic studies.
Zeller and his wife, Deborah, have a 6-month-old daughter, Alexandra, and reside in Ledyard Center, Conn.