PACIFIC OCEAN - Arleigh burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) honored the ship's namesake, Robert Dean Stethem's death in Beirut, Lebannon 28 years ago, with an observance while underway in the Western Pacific Ocean, June 15.
The ceremony opened with a speech from Electrician's Mate Second Class Matthew C. Harkless, president of Stethem's Second Class Petty Officer Association, (SCPOA).
"Rest in peace, our fallen brother, for we have the watch," said Harkless.
SCPOA, unique to Stethem, was established to develop steadfast leadership, following the example of Robbie Stethem, who was to be frocked a Second Class Petty Officer at the age of 23.
"Robbie's sacrifice was made 28 years ago today, but in Robbie's Destroyer, it is a sacrifice we reflect on daily and seek to add honor to, as we accomplish the enduring work of defending our nation," said Cmdr. Christopher W. Adams, Stethem's commanding officer. "The connection we feel to Robbie sustains us, unites us, and focuses our energy. Robbie makes us better than we otherwise would be."
The commemoration closed with the laying of a ceremonial wreath at sea.
Robert Stethem was a Steelworker Second Class Petty Officer from Waterbury, Conn. who enlisted in 1980 and later became a Navy Diver, assigned to the Underwater Construction Team in Little Creek, Va.
In June 1985, while returning from an assignment from Greece, Stethem's flight was hijacked by Hezbollah terrorists. Because of his military background, he was targeted for torture, assassinated, and his body was thrown onto the tarmac at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon.
Stethem, recent recipient of the Battle Efficiency Award for 2013, is part of Destroyer Squadron 15, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.