By Jude C. Ezedike, LCDR USN
On Friday, April 2, 2021, Navy Commander Kelechi Ndukwe, a friend and colleague will make history as the First Nigerian and Nigerian-American to take command of a U.S. Navy Guided Missile Destroyer, USS HALSEY (DDG-97). This great milestone and key event in our history will set the center stage for our young children and future generations of Nigerian-Americans and other African countries in diaspora. There are many opportunities in the Navy for our children in diaspora ranging from Naval Aviator, Submarine Warfare, Surface Warfare, Integrated Weapons Systems, Scientists, Medicine, Pharmacist, Nursing, Engineering, Maintenance Technologists, Nuclear Propulsion Engineering (with over $50,000 annual bonus) to name a few.
We need more of our children in diaspora to engage in these career choices. They are rewarding and at the same time meet the challenges of our forward deployed forces.
As a Surface Warfare Officer, Commander Ndukwe has served on multiple warships to include destroyers, cruisers, and mine countermeasures with extensive deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, Horn of Africa, Arabian Gulf, Western Pacific Ocean, and South America.
At sea, he qualified as Surface Warfare Officer aboard USS THORN (DD-988), where he served as Auxiliaries Mechanical Engineering Officer; USS NORMANDY (CG-60) as Fire-Missile Control Officer; Forward Deployed to Yokosuka, Japan aboard USS FITZGERALD (DDG-62) as Weapons Launching and Combat Systems Officer; Executive and Commanding Officer of USS DEVASTATOR (MCM-6), a minesweeper based in Bahrain; and most recently as the Executive Officer, USS HALSEY (DDG-97) in Pear Harbor, Hawaii.
Ashore, Ndukwe served in the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, representing the Navy on Capitol Hill as a Congressional Liaison Officer. Further, he served as Surface Strike Requirement Officer-OPNAV 96 at the Pentagon, Washington DC; Deputy Executive Assistant to the Director for Surface Warfare on the Navy Staff, Washington DC; and Surface Warfare Branch Chief, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff.
Commander Ndukwe graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering through Navy ROTC scholarship and earned a Master’s degree in National Security and Strategy from the U.S. Naval War College. His command selection will contribute immensely to our forward deployed forces.
Ndukwe has been recognized with various personal, unit-level, and campaign awards including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.