Here we see a great traditional group shot of the crew of the San Diego-based, Pascagoula-built, Flight I Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) that was posted this week.
You may notice the Bee front in center in the photo, just under the 5-inch Mk 45 Mod 2.
There is a reason for that.
The destroyer is the first to carry the name of Navy Seabee diver SW2 Robert Dean Stethem. In 1985, Hezbollah terrorists hijacked TWA Flight 847 and singled out 23-year-old Stethem, then assigned to
NMCB 62 Underwater Construction Team ONE at Gulfport, Mississippi, for being a U.S. Navy Sailor, with the group by some reports confusing him for a Navy SEAL due to his dive training. Stethem was beaten and tortured for 24 hours after he refused to denounce his country, then the terrorists shot him and pushed his body out onto the tarmac at the Beirut airport.
Five other Seabee divers on the flight — Stuart Dahl, Tony Watson, Jeffrey Ingalls, Kenneth Bowen, and Clinton Lee Suggs — endured brutal treatment by the terrorists for 17 days before they were finally released.
Stethem was posthumously promoted to Master Chief Constructionman (CUCM), awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, and was buried at Arlington with full honors. In 2015, then-SECNAV Ray Mabus presented POW Medals to Stethem’s family and the five other Seabee divers held captive.
In recognition of Stethem, the destroyer named in his honor is authorized to fly the pennant of Underwater Construction Team ONE (UCT1) of the NECC, and the SEABEE flag daily along her standard colors.
And they have a Seabee mascot (or two)
The crew also holds an annual memorial service for the Stethem.
The ship’s crew often describes their ship as “Robbie’s Destroyer” and themselves as “Steelworkers,” because that’s what you do to keep a hero alive.