||This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2007)|
|Robert Dean Stethem|
November 17, 1961|
Waterbury, Connecticut, USA
|Died||June 15, 1985
|Buried at||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Rank||Master Chief Constructionman (posthumous, honorary)|
|Unit||Underwater Construction Team ONE UCT-ONE|
Robert Dean Stethem (November 17, 1961 – June 15, 1985) was a United States Navy Seabee diver who was killed by Hezbollah militants during the hijacking of the commercial airliner he was aboard, TWA Flight 847. His Navy rating was Steelworker Second Class (SW2).
Robert Stethem was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, but grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia & Waldorf, Maryland. 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, Virginia.
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. He was 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 February 13, 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.
Awards and decorations 
In his hometown of Waldorf, there is a sports complex 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, Maryland named the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center. In Virginia Beach, Virginia there is a barracks named in his honor at Damneck Naval Base. A Navy Lodge in Gulfport, Mississippi also bears his name. In addition, the Port Hueneme Naval Construction Training Center Headquarters Building and a street on the base in his honor.
In 1995, the U.S. Navy launched an Aegis Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer, the USS Stethem (DDG-63) in his honor.
In Hollywood 
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.