Cover photo for Vincent Novela Zabala Jr's Obituary
1947 Vincent 2023

Vincent Novela Zabala Jr

February 14, 1947 — July 28, 2023



It is with heavy heart to report the passing of Vince Zabala ’71 LCDR, USNR (Ret.), who died suddenly of cardiac arrest on Friday evening 28 July. 

Vince was born February 14th, 1947, in the Philippines to Sgt Vincent and Asuncion Zabala. His father served in the US Army Air Corp and in the US Air Force. As a WWII veteran, his father served in New Guinea and Philippine Liberation Campaign.  Vince's mother saw his potential to be a great leader at an early age, so she pushed and nurtured him to always do his best and never give up.

Throughout his childhood, he lived in various locations as his family moved with the military including California, Colorado, New Mexico, Spain, and Louisiana.  Following the example of his father's service, Vince was offered Presidential appointments to both West Point and the U.S Naval Academy.  He chose Annapolis where his plebe year was tough and rigorous, but he succeeded with the discipline and “stick with it” mantra that Vince inherited from his parents. 

As a midshipman, Vince’s lifetime passion became his hobby as a photographer.  He photographed student life at the Naval Academy and was a member of the Lucky Bag and Trident Calendar staffs, providing Christmas gifts for classmates, friends and relatives. For summer deployments, he was on a diesel-powered WWII LST in the western Caribbean and on the USS Moana Loa (AE8) in the Mediterranean Sea.

Vince graduated from the 1st Company with a BS in Analytical Management and became a Surface Warfare Officer on the USS Truxtun (CGN 35), homeported in Long Beach CA. During his five years of active service, Vince deployed to Westpac and Subic Bay, and was on station during the Vietnam War.  After his time in active service, he spent the next 15 years in the Naval Reserves, finally retiring in 1991.

Looking for other challenges to overcome, Vince got busy after his active-duty time as the owner of Zabala Holdings for 46 years, then 8 years working for Coldwell Banker as a Realtor, and most recently Executive Vice-President of Integrated Sports Media West Coast for 5 years.  He was an active member of the USNA Alumni Association San Diego Chapter for a number of years.

Vince was especially proud of his two sons, Vincent and John, who attended and graduated from the Air Force Academy and from West Point, respectively. He was forever grateful that they followed in his footsteps by their service to our country. He always said that he won the Commander-in-Chief trophy every year! He loved his 3 grandchildren immensely and cherished his visits with them.   

He is survived by his son Lt Col Vincent Zabala III (USAFA ’98), wife Angelina, children Elysia and Celina, and his son CAPT John Zabala (USMA ’05), wife Deneika, child Isaac, his brother Max Zabala, wife Julie and his brother Morton Zabala, wife Carol.

Funeral services will be held at:


5795 Nobel Dr, San Diego, CA 92122

Date: Wednesday, 08/09/2023 
Time: 1:30 pm (Pacific time) cars must be staged at this time

Funeral Mass : Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Bonita, CA

08/09/2023    9:30am

Anchors Aweigh
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Honors for Vincent Novela Zabala Jr

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

2:00 - 2:30 pm (Pacific time)

Miramar National Cemetery

5795 Nobel Dr, San Diego, CA 92122

Please arrive around 1:45pm or before. The service is starting promptly at 2:00pm.

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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