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First Name: Robert

Last Name: Stethem

Birthplace: Waterbury, CT, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)

Rating: Steelworker Petty Officer 2nd Class

Middle Name: Dean

Date of Birth: 17 November 1961

Date of Death: 15 June 1985

Rank or Rate: Petty Officer Second Class

Years Served: 1981-1985
Robert Dean Stethem, Jr.


Robert Dean Stethem, Jr.
Steel Worker Second Class, DV, U.S. Navy

Robert Dean Stethem, Jr. was born on 17 November 1961 in Waterbury, CT, but grew up in Virginia Beach, VA, and Waldorf, MD. He was one of four children. His father and two brothers also served in the U.S. Navy. His mother was a civilian Navy administrator. He graduated from Thomas Stone High School in 1980, where he played defensive back on the varsity and junior varsity football teams. He joined the Navy shortly after graduating.

In the Navy, Stethem was a Seabee Steelworker assigned to NMCB-62 in Gulfport, MS. Assigned to NMCB-62, Stethem served multiple tours on Diego Garcia and Guam. Later, Stethem became a 2nd Class Navy Diver and was assigned to the Navy's Underwater Construction Team in Little Creek, VA.

In June 1985, Petty Officer Stethem was returning from an assignment in Nea Makri, Greece, aboard TWA Flight 847 when it was hijacked by members of the Lebanese organization Hezbollah. The hijackers held 39 people hostage for 17 days, demanding the release of 766 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

When their demands were not met, Stethem was targeted as a member of the U.S. military, and was beaten and tortured. Finally, the hijackers shot him and dumped his body onto the tarmac at the Beirut airport.

One of the hijackers, Mohammed Ali Hammadi, was arrested two years later in Frankfurt, Germany. He was tried and convicted of Stethem's murder and sentenced to life in jail. Three others, Imad Mugniyah, Hassan Izz-Al-Din and Ali Atwa were eventually indicted for their involvement in the incident. In 2002, they were added to the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list. On 13 February 2008, Imad Mugniyah was killed in an explosion in Damascus, Syria.

Mohammed Ali Hammadi was paroled in December 2005 and returned to Lebanon. It is speculated that he was released in a prisoner swap in exchange for the release of Susanne Osthoff, who was kidnapped in Iraq one month earlier.

It was reported by Pakistani intelligence Mohammed Ali Hammadi was killed in June 2010 in Pakistan along the Afghanistan border by a U.S. drone along with 10 other foreigners staging attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Medals and Awards (Posthumous)

Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart


• In his hometown of Waldorf, MD, a sports complex was named in his honor on Piney Church Road. Robert D. Stethem Memorial Park includes 10 ball fields, two of which have 90-foot infields; the complex is the main complex for the Waldorf Little Leagues. It was opened in 1990 and boasts a memorial stone 75 yards from Stethem's Memorial, which includes a tribute plaque to several former Waldorf players, as well as local umpires and district officials who have lost their lives.

• There is also a vocational school located in Pomfret, MD, named the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center.

• In Virginia Beach, VA, there is a barracks named in his honor at Damneck Naval Base.

• A Navy Lodge in Gulfport, MS, also bears his name.

• The Port Hueneme Naval Construction Training Center Headquarters Building and a street on the base was named in his honor.

• In 1995, the U.S. Navy launched an Aegis Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer, the USS Stethem (DDG-63) in his honor.

• On 24 August 2010, on board USS Stethem in Yokosuka, Japan, Robert Dean Stethem was made an honorary Constructionman Master Chief Petty Officer by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.

In the Media

A scene from the movie, The Delta Force, shows a U.S. Navy diver being beaten, tortured, killed, and his body being dumped onto the tarmac. This scene is based on Stethem's encounter.

Death and Burial

SW2 Robert Dean Stethem, Jr. was murdered on 15 June 1985 in Beirut, Lebanon. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in Section 59, near other American victims of international terrorism.

Honoree ID: 3113   Created by: MHOH




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