The 12 youth soccer players who captivated millions across the globe as a days-long expedition to free them from a cave in Thailand played out are honoring the Thai Navy SEAL who died while trying to save them.
Over the weekend, the boys held up a photo of Saman Kunan, the 38-year-old Navy SEAL who died during the rescue operation, while still recovering in a hospital ward in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
The boys spent more than 18 days in a flooded cave after a rainstorm trapped them there during what was meant to be a one-hour tour.
From Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health: The Thai cave boys and coach were told about Saman Gunan’s death on 14 July. “Everybody was crying and sad. They wrote some condolences & thank you messages on a drawing of Saman.” Photos courtesy of Ministry of Public Health. pic.twitter.com/gLB1W8vR0g
— Helier Cheung (@HelierCheung) July 15, 2018
In photos released by the Thai Public Health Ministry, the boys, ages 11 to 16, can be seen bowing their heads in prayer while surrounding a photo of Kunan. They also wrote messages of thanks to Kunan and promised to be “good guys,” CNN reported.
Kunan, a volunteer, was helping to replace oxygen canisters along the route where the boys were sheltering. On July 6, he collapsed and died while diving. Officials told The Associated Press that his own oxygen supply had run out.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun granted Kunan a posthumous promotion to lieutenant commander and given the royal decoration of Knight Grand Cross (first class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant.