I watched Anderson Cooper 360 tonight 360 again tonight–the best national coverage of the BP fiasco.  Tonight, the show ended with a tribute to the 11 hands who died, along with riveting testimony from survivors who told the story of those fateful hours when the forces of hell overwhelmed that doomed drilling rig.  I was deeply moved.

Eunice native Blair Manuel was a mud engineer, like I used to be .

My oilfield stint as a mud engineer is about 25 years in my past, but that part of me was awakened this evening as survivors of the drill crew shared their stories.  The show also included a tribute to the 11 who passed away in that tragedy.  At least two of the deceased were mud engineers, including the  chief mud engineer Blair Manuel, a native of the Cajun community where I live.  I didn’t know Blair or his family personally, but that loss strikes close to home.

I was truly moved by the accounts of the survivors as they recalled the deceased.  Folks who have never worked on offshore rigs don’t truly understand the fraternity that goes on there.  The society offshore, especially among the drilling hands, is as fraternal as any brotherhood I’ve known.  I recall Melville’s “fraternity of the sea” from Moby Dick,  in fact, when I think of working offshore. The talent of those creative, resourceful guys is fascinating, and the bonds that unite them are fast.

I’ve worked in  offshore places and experienced the drama of a well coming in, so these guys’ testimonies awakened  terrorizing recollections for me. I’m blessed I found a safer career.  At the same time I thank God for the courageous lives lost,  and I wish peace and comfort for the families they leave behind.