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    USS Stethem holds 25th Commissioning Anniversary Ceremony and Change of Command

    USS Stethem holds 25th Commissioning Anniversary Ceremony and Change of Command

    Photo By Ensign Carl Link | 200924-N-CL230-0519 SAN DIEGO (Sept. 24, 2020) Cmdr. John Kajmowicz, right, relieves...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

    By LTJG Carl Link, USS STETHEM (DDG 63) Public Affairs

    SAN DIEGO (Sept. 24, 2020) – Friends and family gathered for a 25th commissioning anniversary ceremony and change of command for USS Stethem (DDG 63) at British Aerospace Engineering shipyard, Sept. 24.

    USS Stethem (DDG 63) is named after Steelworker Second Class Robert Dean Stethem, and was commissioned Oct. 21, 1995 in Port Hueneme, California as the 13th Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.

    On June 15, 1985, Stethem, was murdered by Hezbollah terrorists during the hijacking of the commercial airliner he was aboard, TWA Flight 847. Stethem, along with 38 other passengers were held hostage by the terrorists for 17 days. Singled out as a member of the U.S. military, Stethem was targeted, beaten, and tortured, until he was shot and killed.

    “In the predawn hours of June 15, 1985, on the airport runway at Beirut, Lebanon, Robert Stethem gave his life for his country. Robert looked at hate and death squarely and fearlessly, and no cry was heard to come from him. He stood alone that night in a far-away place for you and for me – his countrymen. I am honored to be called his fellow American,” said John Testrake, the pilot of the plane, memorializing Stethem.

    “Carriers are named for presidents, battleships are named for states, and destroyers are named for heroes. Robert Dean Stethem is certainly that – an American hero,” said Richard Stethem, Stehem’s father, at the time of commissioning.

    During the ceremony, Sonar Technician 2nd Class Kevin Truong spoke of Stethem’s legacy.

    “Day in and day out, we strive for positive growth, both personally and professionally. Steelworkers past and present understand that service in Stethem is not just service on another ship, but a promise to be the example of what Robbie believed in and stood for,” said Truong.

    Over the past 25 years, USS Stethem has operated around the world, including three deployments to the Persian Gulf, and performing operations across the maritime commons of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, supporting national objectives of the United States and its allies.

    In celebration of the 25-year anniversary, former commanding officers reflected on Stethem and their personal ties to the ship.

    “It doesn’t matter where you travel in the world, the legacy of Robbie Stethem is global,” said Capt. Jeff Benson.

    “Pause and reflect on Stethem’s life, and to remember his act of courage,” said Benson to second class petty officers aboard USS Stethem.

    Capt. Shan Byrne shared a similar memory about the special bond the ship and crew had with the Stethem crew, their namesake’s story, and his family.

    Following the celebration of the commissioning anniversary, Cmdr. John Kajmowicz relieved Cmdr. John Rummel as commanding officer. Cmdr. Rummel served as Stethem’s commanding officer since May 2019. His follow-on assignment is as executive assistant to the Director, Missile Defense Agency.

    “Steelworkers, your resilience and ability to overcome any obstacle placed in front of you is simply amazing,” said Cmdr. Rummel. “There is nothing you cannot accomplish when we work together. I am proud to have been your captain and am honored to have served with each and every one of you.”

    Under Rummel’s command, Stethem participated in several multi-national and Western Pacific theater support operations to include the joint anti-submarine warfare training Exercise Silent Shark conducted with the Republic of Korea Navy, high-value unit escort duties, and U.S. 7th Fleet presence missions. Also during his tenure, USS Stethem returned home to San Diego, California after 14 years of forward deployed service in Yokosuka, Japan, and is the midst of an 18-month Extended Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA) at BAE shipyard.

    Kajmowicz hails from Lincolnwood, Illinois and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2001, with a degree in mechanical engineering. He most recently served as the executive officer aboard USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), also relieving Rummel there in 2018.

    “Robert’s legacy is a tremendous example of service and sacrifice,” said Kajmowicz. “His selflessness has inspired the steelworkers aboard Stethem for 25 years and we are grateful to celebrate this important milestone with the Stethem family. I am honored to join this amazing crew and look forward to getting this ship back to sea.”

    Also in attendance at the ceremony were Stethem’s older brother, Ken, and younger brother, Patrick, with his wife, Katherine, and their three children. The crew of USS Stethem continues to maintain a close relationship with the Stethem family, and is committed to preserving their namesake’s legacy of devotion and service.

    “I want you to remember what Robert did, how he did it, and why he did it,” said Ken Stethem.
    “‘I love the man that can smile in danger, gathers strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but to he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.’ That’s Robert Dean Stethem. That’s why we should remember him,” continuing with a quote from Thomas Paine.

    Stethem is homeported in San Diego, California and assigned to Destroyer Squadron 21.



    Date Taken: 09.30.2020
    Date Posted: 10.01.2020 12:25
    Story ID: 379934
    Location: SAN DIEGO, CA, US 

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