News of the Thai soccer team stuck in the Tham Luang Nan Non cave with no way out has made international headlines in the past few weeks. The world watched anxiously as the 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, along with their 25-year-old coach, were at last all rescued, following an extensive 17-day operation.
Throughout this most challenging time, we watched as heroes from all over the world gathered to save these boys’ lives. Many put the boys first, such as Australian Dr. Richard Harris, who cut his vacation short to aid and lead the rescue mission.
And then, there was former member of the elite Thai navy SEALs unit, Samarn Kunan — who literally gave his life to rescue the boys.
Now his widow has spoken out and has an important message for everyone.
Samarn died on July 6 after losing consciousness while trying to provide the boys with oxygen tanks deep inside the cave — just two days before the first group of four boys was brought out. He had bravely joined the mission on July 1, just five days prior to his tragic death.
Samarn’s widow Valeepoan Kunan says she is heartbroken over her husband’s death, the only casualty during the multinational rescue mission.
“I love you so much,” she wrote in a caption to a black-and-white photograph of her husband she posted on her Instagram account, adding “I miss you. I love you like you are my very heart…from now on when I wake up…who will I kiss?”
But Valeepoan is also urging the boys blame themselves for his death.
“I want to tell the boys, please don’t blame yourselves,” Valeepoan told reporters.
The boys held a ceremony to mourn Samarn’s death and honor him for giving his life to their cause.
Samarn Kunan, a 38-year-old retired Thai SEAL, was the mission's only fatality.
“Samarn Kunan is the real hero,” head of the rescue mission Narongsak Osottanakorn said. “On the day that he passed, the entire team was sad, but we used this sorrow. We saw that he gave his life for this cause.”
A Thai artist is pledging to create and erect a statue of Samarn in Chiang Rai province, where the cave is situated, so that he will forever be remembered and honored.
We couldn’t agree more. Samarn, you are nothing short of a true hero, trying to give these boys air to breathe while sacrificing your own!
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