Since Memorial Day will soon be here, I wanted to share with you some Navy info about famous veterans that served with the U.S. Navy.
Since I am veteran, and I will not sugarcoat this. Those that have lots of emotions probably need to stop reading now, because this is VERY emotional.
WARNING, TISSUE ALERT!
Note from Craig:
Not everything is fun and games in the U.S. Navy. I made this post to teach people about the Navy. We must never forget those that protected us.
As others cheer when they see the number 847 come up on their phone, to me, it actually brings a moment to reflect on one sailor.
As many of you know 847 is the area code for Great Lakes, and when it appears, it was probably a phone call from their sailor who is calling from bootcamp. Not many people know that this number actually brings a moment of silence from veterans that served during the 1985 era. You see, that number was the actual flight number (TWA-847) when we lost a Navy sailor due to terrorism. It is one of the Navy's sadest moment.
I am a famous sailor, who am I?
I am SW2(DV) Robert Dean Stethem, Jr (Nov 17, 1961 – Jun 15, 1985)
Steelworker Second Class (Diver) Robert D. Stethem, United States Navy Sailor, was a murder victim due to terrorism.
Born in Waterbury, Connecticut and raised in Waldorf, Maryland, he was one of three sons (his father and two brothers also served in the US Navy; his mother worked for the Navy as a civilian). After graduating from Thomas Stone High School in 1980, he joined the US Navy, where he was trained as a diver and as a steelworker. He was assigned to the Navy Underwater Construction Team No. 1 in Norfolk, Virginia, and in 1985, the team was sent to Nea Makri, Greece, to repair a Navy Communications facility
On June 15, 1985, Navy Diver Robert Dean Stethem; was on his way home after
a tour of duty in the Middle East onboard TWA flight 847 (Athens to Rome).
Hezballah Shi'ites hijacked the plane with 153 passengers onboard in Athens
Greece. The terrorists soon became suspicious that there were military
personnel on board. In airline stewardess Uli Derickson's account; she was
forced to collect all passports from all passengers. When she got to Robert
Stethem, she did not collect his identification (military ID) for his own
safety. When his I.D. was not collected, one of the hijackers demanded to
know why, and collected the I.D himself. The hijackers then redirected the
plane to Beirut, and demanded fuel once on the ground. When the
international tower refused fuel, the gunmen grabbed Stethem out of his
seat, pushed him towards the cockpit door and bound him with rope. The
terrorists then proceeded to beat and torture him beyond recognition in
order to make him scream into a transmitter (so that the tower would send a
fuel truck). Not a cry was heard to come from him, despite the brutal
beating he endured. Instead he chose to remain silent and endure the
beatings because he knew that the only way a rescue attempt could be
conducted by U.S. forces was if the aircraft remained on the ground.
After Stethem was beaten, tortured and bleeding from puncture wounds all
over his body, he was placed next to a 16-year old Australian girl. As bad
as he was beaten, he had the courage and strength to comfort and console
her. He told her that, "She would be okay and that she would get out of
here alive." When she tried to return the comfort, he said, "No, I don't
think so. I am the only one in my group that is not married and some of the
guys have children, too." He felt it was fair that the terrorists focus
stay on him; that he would die so that the rest of the passengers could
live. Some time later, he was again taken up to the cockpit and tortured in
order to get the fuel. But it didn't work, he simply would not give in to
One of the hijackers was so enraged that he dragged Stethem to the door,
pulled a trigger and shot him in the head. Then he dumped his body onto the
tarmac. As they killed him with a pistol shot to the head, his last words were
a prayer to God for strength. His face and body was so badly mangled
that he could only be identified by his fingerprints. While Stethem was being
dragged to the door, he knew that all he had to do in order to live was to cry
into that transmitter, but he wouldn't do it. When the pilot of TWA 847 was later
asked about his impression of Stethem, he simply said: "He was the bravest
man I've ever seen in my life".
The Stethem family is a Navy family. His mother was a civilian Navy
administrator, his father and brothers were SEALs.
"Every time I look at the flag now and for the rest of my life,'' said
Kenneth Stethem, "the red will represent the blood he spilled, the blue the
beating and bruises he endured, and the white the purity and integrity he
demonstrated in sacrificing his life.''
In December 2005, hijacker Mohammed Ali Hamadi was released after 19 years
from his prison in Germany despite strong U.S. objections. Shortly
thereafter, the U.S. State Department made the following statement: "We
will track him down, we will find him and we will bring him to justice in
the United States for what he's done".
On February 12, 2008 Imad Mughniyeh, the man behind the TWA 847 hijacking
and the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut was assassinated in
Damascus, Syria. It is suspected that this was a combined covert operation
by Israel and American operators. Good riddance - @sshole!
1. SW2(DV) Robert D. Stethem was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart
and Bronze Star for heroism and bravery.
His citation for the Bronze Star for Heroism reads:
"For heroic achievement on 15 June 1985 while assigned to Detachment NM-85 of Underwater Construction Team One, deployed to the Naval Communications Station Nea Makri, Greece. Petty Officer Stethem displayed exceptional valor and professional integrity while a hostage of militant Shiite hijackers of TWA Flight 847 at Athens International Airport, Algiers, Algeria, and at Beirut, Lebanon. Exhibiting physical, moral, and emotional courage beyond extraordinary limits, Petty Officer Stetham endured a senseless and brutal beating at the hands of his fanatical captors. He drew upon an unwavering inner strength and absorbed the punishment. The hijackers were infuriated by his refusal to succumb, a symbol to them of the strength of the United States of America, and in their cowardly desperation, shot him to death. Petty Officer Stetham's courage, steadfast determination, and loyal devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. Signed by John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy."
2. On 21 October 1995 the Navy's 13th Aegis Destroyer USS STETHEM (DD
63) was commissioned and still serves with honor.
3. Robert D. Stethem Memorial Park was opened in 1990 in Waldorf, VA.
It includes 10 ball fields, two of which have 90-foot infields; the complex
is the main complex for Waldorf American and Waldorf National Little
4. The U.S. Navy Seabees named the Port Hueneme Naval Construction
Training Center Headquarters Building in his honor.
5. A memorial to Robert Dean Stethem sits at MDSU ONE, Hawaii as a
reminder of his bravery.
Petty Officer Robert Dean Stethem, Jr is interned at Arlington National Cemetery, Plot: Section 59, Lot 430, Grid EE-25
God bless you shipmate! You shall not be forgotten!