May 4, 2010 7:32 PM by Kate Mundy
Two weeks after eleven men died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion, there's barely a mention of their names. The oil spill has taken center stage, as friends and families of the victims cope with their grief behind the glare of the media spotlight.
The victims are from eleven different cities across three states, with one thing in common, the Deepwater Horizon. 37-year old Aaron Dale Burkeen from Philadelphia, MS, 38-year old Karl Kleppinger Jr. from Natchez, Dewey Revette from State Line, MS and young Shane Roshto from Liberty.
Five hailed from Louisiana, including Georgetown's Stephen Curtis, 29-year old Gordon Jones from Baton Rouge who was just one month away from being a daddy... again, Roy Wyatt Kemp of Jonesville, Donald Clark of Newellton and Eunice native Blair Manuel.
Two of the men were from Texas, Jason Anderson of Bay City and Adam Weise, 24, of Yorktown. All leave behind loved ones, friends and broken hearts.
For friends of 56-year old Blair Manuel, his memories live on forever. "He left a lot of good friends behind," said Lapin Bertrand. "He's probably the closest thing to a brother I ever had," said Johnny Bischoff who when to school with Manuel at Eunice High School in the early 1970s.
Blair was lovingly known as "Gro Bebe" or "Big Baby" to those closest to him. "You just had to love him, he was a big hearted guy," said Bischoff.
Manuel loved to hunt and fish, loved his LSU Tigers, but more than anything, loved his family and fiancee. "He met a wonderful girl and his life was all back in order and he was real excited, in fact they had already bought a bunch of stuff," said Bischoff.
"He was excited about life, it was going his way," said Bertrand.
Friends say he wasn't even supposed to be on the rig, he traded time for his upcoming wedding on July 9. But they say, he lived and died doing what he loved. "He'd got an offer to work in the office, he said no, I enjoy my work too much, I enjoy being out there with the people I work with that's what I want to do," said friend Willis Bertrand.
Visitation for Blair Manuel will be held at Quirk and Son Funeral Home from 11:30 am to 2:00 on Friday, May 7th. His memorial service follows at 2:00 pm at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Eunice.
For upcoming memorial information for the other victims, click here.