After more than two weeks underground, the 13 people trapped in a Thai cave are finally being rescued.
The soccer team’s dramatic survival story was followed around the world, as rescuers rushed to save them from a flooded cave.
But sadly, one of the brave volunteers who risked his life to save the boys will not be celebrating their rescue.
“May you rest in peace and we will accomplish this mission.”
Saman Gunan, 38 was a former Thai Navy SEAL who worked as an airport security guard.
Even years after leaving the armed forces, Gunan kept in touch with his fellow veterans and their training activities.
So when news broke that a team of young boys and their coach were trapped in a cave, Gunan volunteered to help.
In a video shot by Gunan before heading to the rescue site, he said he wanted to “bring the boys back home.”
He was one of more than 1,000 workers and volunteers who raced to rescue the boys from the Tham Luang Nang Non caves in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Gunan’s work as an expert diver was crucial: he brought supplies into the cave, including fresh containers of oxygen that both the trapped boys and their rescuers relied on.
He died by drowning in the early morning last Friday, while bringing fresh air canisters into the cave.
Other rescuers tried to revive Gunan on site but could not.
“His effort and determination will always remain the hearts of all divers,” the Thai Navy SEALs wrote in a Facebook post.
“May you rest in peace and we will accomplish this mission as you had wished.”
“I really loved him.”
The hard work of Gunan and the other rescue divers has finally paid off this week.
On Sunday, expert divers began to guide the trapped boys out of the cave in small groups.
So far there is no update on the boys’ condition, but earlier videos of them inside the cave showed them smiling.
Waleepon Gunan remembers her husband as an adventurous man with a big heart.BBC
While the world is celebrating their rescue, Gunan’s wife, Waleepon Gunan, is in mourning.
She remembered her husband as an athletic and charitable man in an interview with the BBC.
“In other people’s eyes, he’s lovely,” she said. “For me, I love him so much. I really loved him.”
“Every day before he left for work,” she remembered, “we said we loved each other.” She even said Gunan would text her during the day to be sure she ate lunch.
Chiang Rai Times
Gunan’s body was loaded onto a Thai Navy plane. A military funeral and a smaller service in his hometown were planned, with the Thai monarchy offering to cover the bill for both ceremonies.
For Waleepon, the only way to cope with her painful emotions is through pride for her late husband and his bravery.
“Saman once said we never knew when we would die,” she said.
“We can’t control that, so we need to cherish every day.”
While rescue workers worry that more rain this week could complicate the final rescue operations, there are more trips into the cave scheduled today.
Let’s all honor Sgt. Saman Kunan’s memory and pray for his loved ones.
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