Crew of Guided-Missile Destroyer USS Stethem Hosts Reception in Timor-Leste

Crew of Guided-Missile Destroyer USS Stethem Hosts Reception in Timor-Leste

The crew of guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) hosted an informal reception for senior military and civil officials from the United States, Timor-Leste and other foreign nations Nov. 27.

Cmdr. Michael DeVore, commanding officer of Stethem, welcomed Brig. Gen. Filomeno da Paixao de Jesus, deputy chief of Defense Force and Judith Fergin, U.S. ambassador to Timor-Leste as the honored guests.

“It was a great opportunity to share the evening with such wonderful people,” said DeVore. “Events like this help us to develop and grow important relationships, and serve as a testament of our desire to strengthen our friendship with Timor-Leste well into the future.”

During the evening, the ambassador spoke about the importance of the two nation’s strong military ties.

“The United States and Timor-Leste enjoy an excellent military to military relationship,” said Fergin. “We are proud that we enjoy a permanent partnership across the range of international interaction.”

Several Sailors from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40 also attended the event in honor of the ship’s namesake, Steelworker 2nd Class Robert Stethem, a Navy Seabee who in 1985 gave his life while protecting the passengers of TWA Flight 847 from hijacking terrorists. Since 2009, the Seabees have worked with the Timor-Leste military on a range of civil-military projects.

“All of us based here in Timor-Leste feel as special affinity for the USS Stethem and that of course is because of our Seabee connection,” said Fergin. “They build projects of peace. They work side by side with their Timor-Leste military counterparts as well as other international partners to construct schools, clinics, community centers and other facilities to help the government meet its goals for the benefit of the people of this very young nation.”

During the reception, DeVore presented gifts on behalf of the crew of Stethem to the ambassador and the deputy chief of defense force. After the gift presentation, guests socialized on the flight deck as they dined on a buffet served by the ship’s culinary specialists.

“The reception was a great opportunity to demonstrate the pride and professionalism of Stethem and her crew to our guests,” said DeVore. “It was great to be able to host such an event for the Timor-Leste community and military leaders who are working with us to promote peace and stability in the region.”

The Essex Expeditionary Strike Group consists of forward-deployed amphibious assault ship, USS Essex (LHD 2) and Stethem, which report to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet Rear Adm. J. Scott Jones, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.

Naval Today Staff, November 30, 2011; Image: navy