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History and Heritage

Hold Fast - Part 1

Six Navy Divers of UCT 1 and Their Unimaginable Ordeal

It was another typical early spring morning at the Underwater Construction Team ONE headquarters in Little Creek, Va., when Bobby Stethem reported for duty.

Seasoned Navy Diver Stuart Dahl enjoyed his position assigning the new arrivals, and was at his desk when Bobby arrived.

"Bob Stethem," smiled the new guy, extending his hand.
Stuart stood to shake and was immediately overcome with a strange sensation. "I wasn't superstitious or religious," he would recall years later. "But I had this sudden, enormous sense of fear and dread ... of terror."

For whatever reason, he felt compelled to immediately assign Bobby to his own division: November Mike. It was a close-knit group already - Stu, Tony, Clint, Dave, Jeff and Kenny. To call these Navy Divers close was an understatement. They were brothers.

Stu gave the event little thought until a few days later when Bobby uneasily approached him. He too had experienced the same dark, sudden feeling of dread. They both shrugged it off - there was work to be done.
Hold Fast Pt. 2 Link

Hold Fast Pt. 2 Link

Summer was approaching and there was an assignment on the books: a small detachment was needed to fix a sewer outfall line at the communications station in Nea Makri, Greece. It was a less than glamorous, but certainly well within their abilities. They dutifully packed their dive gear and headed out.

The snag happened when they arrived on station: none of their gear had made it. Improvising as only Navy Divers can, they quickly set about fixing the pipe. Within days, the job was complete. The sun set June 13, 1985 as the team enjoyed a quiet dinner. The next day would begin early - they would need to be at the airport to begin the long trek home.

Clint and Bobby waited with the team's baggage while Tony, Stu, Jeff and Ken returned the rental cars. Dave Smith was enjoying some well-deserved leave. He would rejoin his teammates stateside soon.

Hours later he would watch, with the rest of the world, as a horror unfolded on live television.