Talking Proud --- Features

The horror of the Deepwater Horizon explosion

By Ed Marek, editor

May 9, 2010 appended May 11, 2010 with additional photos

On April 20, 2010 rig workers and engineers on the deck of the oil rig “Deepwater Horizon” were finishing a delicate operation to cement a metal well casing in place. A giant bubble of methane gas unexpectedly rushed up the drill pipe and enveloped the deck of the drilling platform in a cloud of highly flammable gas, followed by a scalding flood of crude oil that spilled onto the drill deck and ignited. Nine workers on the drill deck were killed, along with two others working in the nearby mud storage room.

Eleven souls aboard lost their lives. They deserve our thoughts and prayers. They were:

Jason Anderson, Midfield, Texas, toolpusher, leaves behind two children.

Aaron Dale Burkeen, 37, Sandtown, Mississippi, crane operator, a local paper reported that Burkeen was responsible for getting the other crew members to safety before leaving, but was unable to get off the rig in time. He is survived by a wife and two children, ages 14 and 6.

Donald Clark, 49, Newllton, Louisiana, assistant driller, was scheduled to leave the rig on April 21, the day after the explosion.

Stephen Curtis, 39, Georgetown, Louisiana, assistant driller, survived by two children. He had been working in the oil industry for 17 years, following in the footsteps of his father, Howard, who worked as a diver-welder for 34 years.

Gordon Jones, 28, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, MI SWaco, leaves behind a son and a pregnant wife, Michelle.

Roy Wyatt Kemp, 27, Monterey, Louisiana, Derrickhand, leaves behind two daughters, one three years old, the other three months old, and his wife, Tracy.

Karl Kleppinger, Jr., 38, Natchez, Mississippi, Floorhand, Desert Storm veteran, leaves behind a wife, Tracy, and a 17 year-old son,

Keith Blair Manuel, 56, St. Amant, Louisiana, worked as a chemical engineer on the rig. He had three daughters and was engaged to be married.

Dewey Revette, 48, State Line, Mississippi, worked for Transocean for 29 years as a driller, and was also a father.

Shane Roshto, 22, Liberty, Mississippi, floorhand, leaves behind wife, Natalie.

Adam Weise, 24, Yorktown, Texas, floorhand, “Adam was my baby, just 24 years old,” Adam’s mother, Arlene Weise told reporters.

These men were serving their nation in a noble profession, drilling for the oil required to drive this nation's massive economy. No other source of energy is available at this time to drive such an economy.

Drilling deep water is a relatively new though proven technology, very sophisticated, complex, and very demanding. It is employed widely offshore West Africa as well.

This citizen is grateful that such men step forward to work in this honorable profession. Such drilling will continue, and courageous, hard-working men like those lost will step forward to continue on, as Americans do after every disaster.

It has long been men and women of this caliber who have built this nation to what it is today, working under the most difficult circumstances, challenged by all manner of threats. This is an American tradition, one respected world-wide.

The souls lost aboard this Gulf oil rig are in a Better Place. God's speed to their families and friends. You will always be in our hearts and on our minds.

The following photos reflect the fury of the Gulf oil rig explosion that cost 11 lives and threatens our environment. It is frightening to think of what it must have been like for the men aboard during this event. The explosion occurred during the late night hours of April 20. The Deepwater Horizon sunk on April 22.

Deepwater Horizon during normal operations in the Gulf of Mexico

These photos were taken shortly after the rig caught fire. The mast is still standing. In this editor’s book, this is when the US Government should have been in the rapid reaction mode. The first night of the fire.

The drilling mast has toppled, melting fast under the fire

Support vessels using their fire fighting gear to cool the rig.

Daylight has broken, and support vessels are still using their fire fighting gear to cool the rig.

Early morning, Day 2. Note that a hole has burned through the aluminum helideck.

Day 2, morning, the rig is starting to settle quite low in the water and a fuel and oil slick are forming

She’s definitely seen her better days. She’s going down.

The Milwaukee has posted a video that pays tribute to the 11 men who lost their lives in the Deepwater Horizon. I have chosen to take some video grabs of the men on the Deepwater Horizon at work and with their families. I am not able to identify the men, and therefore not able to pinpoint those who perished. Readers who are, please let me know and I will annotate the photo. Click on the e-mail link at the bottom of this page.

I present these photos to remind us all that the men who work these rigs are just like you and me, hard-working Americans in a line of work that produces a vital commodity for us all.

Editor’s note: Based on the individual photos of those who died in the explosion, presented above, I could hazard a few guesses on who among the photos you are about to view died. I fear making a mistake so will rely on readers to help if they feel firm about their identifications.