Zeb Dickey Alford was born in McComb, Mississippi, on 18 March 1925, son of J. Burton and Doris (Dickey) Alford. He graduated from McComb High School and in June 1943 enlisted in the US Naval Reserve. He attended Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, under the V-12 program, prior to entering the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from his native state in June 1944. Graduated and commissioned Ensign with the Class of 1948-A on 6 June 1947, he subsequently advanced in rank to that of Captain, to date from 1 July 1968.
Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1947, he joined USS Charles R. Ware (DD-865) to serve as Communications Officer, Gunnery and Torpedo Officer and Antisubmarine Warfare Officer. While on board that destroyer, operating out of Norfolk, Virginia, be participated in a Mediterranean Cruise in the fall of 1947 and in three cruises to the Caribbean. From January to July 1949 he had submarine training at the Submarine School, New London, Connecticut, then served as Communications Officer, First Lieutenant and Gunnery Officer and Supply Officer on board USS Cutlass (SS-478), home ported in Key West, Florida. In January 1952 he reported on board USS Charr (SS-328), for duty as Engineering Officer and Supply Officer and in that submarine took part in a war patrol in the Korean area of hostilities in the summer of 1952. He was Communications Officer on the Staff of Commander Submarine Squadron THREE and Submarine Flotilla ONE, headquartered at San Diego, California, from January 1954 to July 1955.
He next had instruction in Operations Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland, from which he received the Master of Science Degree in June 1957, then was assigned as Operations Officer, Navigator, and Executive Officer on board USS Cavalla (SSK- 244). On board that submarine, operating out of New London, Connecticut, he participated in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization fall exercise of 1957. He also was Submarine Force, US Atlantic Fleet member of the NATO Analysis Team, which made presentations, in Norfolk, Virginia and London, England in December 1957.
During the period July to December 1958 he attended the Nuclear Power School, New London, Connecticut, after which he had training at West Milton Nuclear Prototype, New York, where he qualified as Chief Operator of Nuclear Power Plant. He continued training, July 1959 to January 1960 at the Windsor Nuclear Prototype, New London, Connecticut. Ordered to the Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics Corporation, he had fitting out duty in USS Tullibee (SSN-597) and joined her as Executive Officer and Navigator upon her commissioning, 9 November 1960. As Prospective Commanding Officer of USS Shark (SSN-591), he had instruction with the Naval Reactor Group, Bureau of Ships, Navy Department, Washington, DC, from February to April 1962 and in June of that year assumed command of that nuclear powered submarine. Under his command, the Shark, operating out of Norfolk, Virginia conducted a seventy-one day submerged cruise. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal "for meritorious service...during a period in 1962 as Commanding Officer of the SHARK..."
In November 1963 he reported as Head of the Propulsion and Auxiliary Systems Requirements and Readiness Section, Submarine Warfare Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC, where he served until April 1965. Two months' instruction at the Naval Guided Missile School, Dam Neck, Virginia, was followed by a month's further training at the submarine School, New London, Connecticut. In August 1965 he became Commanding Officer of USS Sam Houston (SSBN-609) and in August of the next year assumed command of the Gold Crew of that fleet ballistic missile submarine.
Assigned in August 1968 to the Office of Program Appraisal, Navy Department, he served as Assistant Chief (Strategic Forces) in the Special Studies and Objectives Division and later as Executive Assistant to the Director of that office until October 1969. He then became Executive Assistant and Naval Aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy. "For outstanding meritorious service from August 1968 to August 1970..." he was awarded the Meritorious Service. He next had instruction at the National War College, Washington, DC, and in June 1971 was ordered to duty as Commanding Officer of the Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In addition to the Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal, Captain Alford had the American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal with bronze star; Korean Service Medal; and the United Nations Service Medal.
He is a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and the Operations Research Society of America.