07 August 2006

Robert Dean Stethem

This young Navy diver was returning from an assignment in the Middle East when the commercial jet on which he was a passenger was hijacked by terrorists. He was shot to death, after being tortured, by the terrorist.

Just 10 minutes after TWA Flight 847 took off from Athens on June 14, 1985, two men with guns stormed the cockpit. The pilot radioed that one had explosives, saying, “He has pulled a hand grenade pin, and he is ready to blow up the aircraft if he has to. We must, I repeat, we must land at Beirut.”

After brutally attacking several of those on board, the hijackers — Hezbollah terrorists — discovered that one passenger was enlisted in the U.S. Navy: Robert Dean Stethem, 23, a steelworker and diver. Stethem, too, was severely beaten, then shot and killed — his body shoved out of the plane to the tarmac below. He was buried with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery

When the plane was at the Beirut airport in Lebanon, Petty Officer Stethem was singled out because he was in the US military. After many hours of being cruelly beaten, tortured, and finally killed by the terrorists, they threw his body from the plane in a final disgraceful, cowardly act. The wounds were so terrible that his body had to be identified by its fingerprints.
Throughout the ordeal, Robert Stethem did not yield, and instead encouraged his fellow passengers to endure by his example. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for heroism and bravery. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery."
--Mark Crawford, Bryantown from "Who Was Robert Stethem"


Neal...Hugh said...

I honor him. Neal H. Hurwitz NY NY
US Army

Edward Balaban said...

Navy destroyers are named for heroes such as him. See: navysite.de/dd/ddg63.htm‎