The Thai boys who were rescued from a flooded cave have paid their respects to the brave, former Navy Seal diver, who lost his life trying to save them.
Petty Officer Saman Gunan passed away when he ran out of air during a mission to deliver oxygen tanks to twelve young boys and their football coach, who were trapped in an underground, water-logged cave in Chiang Rai, for almost three weeks.
Gunan, 37, was honoured at a state funeral yesterday, (July 14) and hundreds of mourners paid their respects, including high ranking military officials and a representative of the king, at the Wat Ban Nong Khu temple in his home town of Chatuphak Piman.
Dr Jesada Chockbamrungsuk, who’s in charge of their treatment said:
All of the boys cried and were in tears when they found out. The survivors expressed their thanks to the Thai Navy Seal by bowing to his picture.
The boys all promised to be a good person and lead a good life to honour him. We told them about the death of Navy Seal Gunan as part of the process of preparing the boys to go back home and to lead normal lives.
Gunan was at the forefront of the mission to save the trapped youngsters – some of whom are as young as 11 years old – and their 25-year-old coach, Ekaphol Chantawong, from Tham Laung Cave.
The group of thirteen were initially found by British rescue divers. They’d been reported missing after being stuck in the cave for 10 days, perched on a rock shelf in a small chamber, about 4km (2.5 miles) from the cave mouth.
They’d gone into the cave on an adventuring exploration to celebrate one boy’s birthday, but became trapped when an unexpected rain shower flooded Tham Laung and blocked their exit.
Worries mounted as it became clear many of the youngsters couldn’t swim.
Initially, officials thought they’d have to leave the thirteen in the cave until the end of the rain season, but with oxygen levels in the chamber depleting to just 15 per cent (from the norm of 21 per cent) something had to be done before its end, four months away.
So entered the trained team of highly-trained divers, including Gunan.
They were tasked with taking oxygen to those stranded, supported by nearly 1,000 people involved in the rescue operation, including navy divers, military personnel and civilian volunteers.
His life could – and should – serve as a reminder of the innate selflessness of the human condition, and the bravery we’re all capable of with enough love in our hearts.
What Saman did, that final act of selflessness, bravery and kindness, takes an almost superhuman strength of self, and it should never be forgotten.
RIP Saman Gunan.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected].