Meet the heroes of the daring rescue mission that brought 13 Thai soccer players to safety

Thailand cave rescuers

Thousands of people from around the world gathered in Thailand over the last several weeks to help rescue the Thai soccer team trapped inside a cave.

The boys were discovered in the cave after surviving for 10-days with little food and no shelter, and required a delicate and methodical plan to get them out of the cave safely.

Local military, police, and the Thai Navy SEALs worked alongside thousands of local and international volunteers, divers, doctors, and experts to aid in the urgent rescue mission.

The boys and their 25-year-old coach were finally extracted after a three-day event, which included pumping out massive amounts of water from the cave’s chambers, strategically placing air tanks along a 2.5-mile long passageway, and tightly wrapping the boys so they could be guided out of the cave by tireless divers.

Thai Navy SEALS celebrated the successful mission on their Facebook page, calling the rescue nothing short of miraculous.

Here are the heroes who made the mission possible.

SEE ALSO: This timeline shows exactly how the Thai cave rescue unfolded

DON’T MISS: ‘Be a force for good’: Thai Navy SEAL chief delivers powerful message to rescued soccer team

Coach Ekkapol Chantawong

While the 25-year-old coach of the soccer team had apologized for allowing the boys to wander into the cave, he is also credited with helping keep them alive during their 17-day ordeal.

The former monk, referred to as “Coach Ake,” taught his players how to meditate so they could stay calm and conserve energy while they waited to be rescued. Divers found the team meditating when they arrived at the cave.

The coach also gave his food to the children, and remained inside the cave until the very last child had been removed in a tremendous show of leadership.

British divers John Volanthen and Rick Stanton

Volanthen, 47, and Stanton, 56, first discovered the boys huddled together on an embankment 2.5 miles inside the cave 10 days after the team had gone missing.

Video emerged showing the powerful moment when rescuers found the boys alive, setting plans to rescue them in motion.

The pair hold the world record for the longest cave penetration dive, and many have called to honor them with the UK’s highest awards of bravery.

Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan

Former Sgt. Saman Kunan, 38, died early on Friday from lack of oxygen while trying to replenish the oxygen tanks in the cave for the impending rescue.

The volunteer diver has been praised as a hero, and reportedly received a royal-sponsored funeral with full honors.

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Gunan’s widow and his Thai Navy SEAL colleagues remembered him as a man who loved to do charity work, triathlons, and adventurous sports.

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Source:: Business Insider


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