Robbie’s Destroyer

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.

170625-N-DZ075-061 SEA OF JAPAN (June 26, 2017) A ceremonial firing squad honor renders a 21-gun salute during an official memorial ceremony for Honorary Master Chief Robert Dean Stethem aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer named in his honor, USS Stethem (DDG 63). Stethem was a United States Navy Seabee Diver who endured hours of torture and maltreatment and was eventually killed by Hezbollah terrorists after being singled out as an American service member during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847, June 15, 1985. Stethem is on patrol in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Harper/ Released)

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.


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