WATRERS SOUTHEAST OF JAPAN –
Patrick Stethem, younger brother of, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem’s namesake, Robert Stethem, and his family embarked the ship as a part of the command’s 2014 Tiger Cruise, Aug. 3-7.
The four-day underway visit was particularly valuable as Patrick and his wife Katherine were able to share firsthand stories of Robert’s life and the choices he made throughout his life with members of the ship’s crew.
Stethem is the thirteenth Aegis destroyer and is named for Steelworker Second Class Robert Dean Stethem. Robbie was a passenger on TWA Flight 847 that was hijacked by Hezbollah terrorists in 1985. He was targeted for being a member of the United States Navy and killed for his unwillingness to provide information to the terrorists. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star for heroism and is buried in Section 59 of Arlington National Cemetery.
“The namesake on USS Stethem is a way of life,” said Fire Controlman Chief James Downs. “Robert D. Stethem was a steelworker and all Sailors on board refer to each other as ‘steelworkers’ to keep the sacrifices he made for his country in our hearts and minds.”
During the Tiger Cruise, family and friends observed and participated in activities that their loved ones do every day. These activities included tours of the various machinery and work spaces, participation in Morale Welfare and Recreation events and observation of live-fire gunnery training exercises. All the events were geared toward enabling the family members to get a better understanding of life at sea.
“It was awesome seeing what my dad does when he is away,” said Liam Jones, son of Fire Controlman Chief Davey Jones. “I want to be in the Navy!”
The event culminated with a farewell party on the messdecks and birthday celebration for Patrick Stethem’s twin children.
“Thank you for joining us,” said Cmdr. John Bradford, Stethem’s commanding officer. “By sharing firsthand knowledge of our underway operations, were are able to establish shared experiences that will strengthen our extended ‘steelworker’ team and make us more ready to face the challenges that Sailors and their families meet both at sea and ashore.”
Stethem is forward-deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.