BP Oil Spill: Families Gather to Honor 11 Who Died, Express Frustration With BP, Transocean

Memorial for 11 dead held this afternoon in Jackson, Miss.

ByABC News
May 25, 2010, 1:02 PM

May 25, 2010— -- Eleven bronze hardhats and a white cross were lined up at the base of the podium beneath banner listing the names of the 11 men who died when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico.

But the memorial ceremony in Jackson, Miss., organized by the rig's owner Transocean, was tinged with frustration and suspicion by the families of the dead.

Watch 'ABC World News with Diane Sawyer' for more coverage of today's memorial service

"All of us come here today bearing a burden," said Larry Mills, human resources manager for Transocean. "Few of us, few here bear the burden of the employees and crew members who were aboard the Horizon that difficult and horrific tragic night. And even fewer bear the burden of those who are seated here in the front rows -- the wives, the children, the parents and the brothers and sisters."

Steve Newman, president and CEO of Transocean, took time to recognize the surviving crew of the April 20 explosion and share stories about the men who had died.

Speaking about one of those men, longtime employee Aaron Dale Burkeen, Newman said, "There are many of you here today who knew Dale. [...] Dale was indeed one of those guys who made the world around him better."

Many of the families who gathered in Jackson's convention center for today's service did so with mixed emotions.

Mary and Robert Burkeen, parents of Dale Burkeen, weren't sure about the motives behind the memorial service.

The Burkeens spoke with ABC's Diane Sawyer on Monday about the loss of their son and their frustrations with the way Transocean and BP have dealt with their family and the wider disaster.

"I'm going there to honor my son, that's the only reason," said Mary Burkeen. "If it weren't for that, I wouldn't go because I think they're doing it for a show. I don't think it's coming from their heart."