Seabee Once, Seabee Always

By James Johnson, NAVFAC Far East Public Affairs

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CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation Board Member Patrick Stethem, his wife and children met with Self Help Seabees from Public Works Departments Atsugi and Yokosuka, Japan, Aug. 8.

Self Help Seabees at Public Works Departments Atsugi and Yokosuka, Japan, presented gifts and shared sea stories with veteran Seabee Patrick Stethem, Aug. 8.

Stethem served as a Seabee steelworker and advanced underwater construction technician between 1985 and 1995. He is currently on the board of the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation.

“Any opportunity I have to shake a fellow Seabee’s hand, pat them on the back and say, “Thank you,” is very important to me,” said Stethem. “I want to hear about the important work they are doing, encourage them and share any stories about my brother’s or my service in the Seabees.”

Stethem, his wife and children were visiting Japan after going on a Tiger Cruise aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Stethem (DDG 63), named for his brother, Steelworker 2nd Class (DV) Robert Stethem, who was killed by Hezbollah terrorists during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985. Robert Stethem was frocked to the honorary rank of master chief petty officer in a posthumous ceremony, Aug. 24, 2010.

At the gathering, the PWD Atsugi and Yokosuka Seabees presented a special paddle, command coins and an original poem, which reads, “Oh Seabee, Oh Seabee, you are our brother at hand. Oh Seabee, Oh Seabee, you will forever guide us on shore or land. Acts of your courage will never fade away for you are our hero each and every day. Your steadfast spirit will always remain in the ‘CAN DO’ motto and a brother for the same.”

The ‘Bees also sang “Happy Birthday” to Stethem’s children. The children responded by leading the group in a rendition of the famous Seabee song.

“I cannot put into words how much it means to our family that the Seabees remember Rob the way they do. I am, however, not surprised. Our community remembers their own, particularly the fallen,” said Stethem.

Stethem said even the crew of the USS Stethem remembers the ship’s namesake by calling themselves “steelworkers.”

“It is imperative to me that the service of our men and women of the CEC and Seabees are honored and remembered for the remarkable service to our country and the world,” Stethem said.

“The CEC/Seabee Museum proudly serves as a vehicle through which the history of the Seabees is chronicled and the service and sacrifice of the Civil Engineering Corps and the Seabees are memorialized,” he continued. “A few examples of those honored by the Seabees include Medal of Honor Recipient CM3 Marvin Shields, BUC Joel Baldwin of NMCB-7, Lt. j. g. Francis Toner, NMCB-14 Seabees and SW2 Robert Dean Stethem.”

NAVFAC is the Systems Command that delivers and maintains quality, sustainable facilities, acquires and manages capabilities for the Navy’s expeditionary combat forces, provides contingency engineering response, and enables energy security and environmental stewardship. Additional updates and information about NAVFAC can be found on social media sites Facebook and Twitter. Become a Fan at www.facebook.com/navfac and follow us at www.twitter.com/navfac

 

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