An eye witness account:
Over the couse of time we are told that we will forget the pains that have been inflicted upon us.
I was one of the Navy Seabee Divers who had to endure the pain of hearing and seeing SW2 (DV) Robert Stethem go through the brutality of terrorism on June 14, 1985. It has been 19 years since that day. I will NEVER FORGET what he sacraficed. I was lucky/blessed to be able to return home after 17 days of captivity. The mental and physical pains which we all endured during that time will heal, but will also be forever etched into our memory. Bobby was a close friend who is deeply missed by many. Let us all remember what has been taken away from us by EVIL and call it what it is. Many people ask me the question of, are we doing the right thing in waging a world wide war on terror, as if I am some type of an expert on the topic. I can only respond by saying,"If you can answer that question buy saying NO, you have not personally felt the pain of the enemy. Only a casual observer can say that we are doing the wrong thing, someone who lives in a bubble".
Let us not just remember the events of Sept. 11,2001, but remember all of what has happened over the course of many years. Remember we are not the bad guys in this fight. It is right for us to take a stand and support the cause of freedom and to do our best in preventing these acts of barbarism. I have no doubts that if Robert Stethem were still alive what his answer would be.
As the gunman fired the fatal shot into my friends head, he cried out to God. That is the example I will always remember and try to follow. Never give up, endure all that is pressed upon me, and cry out to God for strength when I have done all that is within my power. We as a Nation can respond to evil in this same way. The motto of the USS Stethem DDG-63 is, "Steadfast and Courageous". This very applicable to the way Bobby lived & died.
We can honor him and all the other 5000+ Americans who have fallen to terrorism by applying this creed to our support of our Armed Forces and President of this great nation.
May we endure as Bobby did untill the end and always "Keep the Faith"
Robert was a Navy Diver with the SeaBees. He was returning from assignment in Greece, when Hezbollah terrorists hijacked the commercial plane he was on. Once they had identified him as an American Sailor, they beat him and put a bullet into his head. Unfortunately, his murderers have been consistently given the easy path throughout the justice systems in Europe. Now, the mastermind, Imad Mughniyeh, has been killed in a car bomb in Damascus.
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.''
Robert Stethem was honored with the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. In 1995, the Navy christened a destroyer, USS Stethem. Today, his hijackers are still free, but the planner of the hijacking has been removed from earth.