Cave rescue mission’s first sacrifice

A TRAGIC event occurred last night as one ex-Navy SEAL’s life was lost in the cave rescue effort.

Latest announcement from the Tham Luang cave command post revealed that, around 1 a.m. of Friday July 6, an ex-Navy SEAL has died while performing critical tasks of preparing oxygen supplies for the rescue of the 13 victims trapped in Tham Luang cave.

The 38-year-old identified as Petty Officer First Class Samarn Kunun was part of the SEAL team responsible for installing oxygen supplies to an approximately 1.7- kilometer submerged critical path of the cave where he went unconscious and was taken out by his diving buddy.

The resuscitation effort was performed as soon as he was pulled out of the muddy water and once more at cave’s Hall 3 but sadly ineffective. He passed away.

For the SEAL team, a 1.7-kilometer dive to install oxygen supplies means continual 3.4-kilometer round trip dives in a known near blinded, dark, muddy, narrow, and dangerous rock sharp underwater cave tunnels.

Mr Samarn (aka Sam) was currently retired Navy’s Underwater Demolition Assault Unit (publicly known as SEAL) who worked at Suvarnabhumi Airport and volunteered to rejoin the SEAL team for now an internationally aware rescue mission.

He was sent to Phaya Mengrai Hospital in Chiang Rai as soon as he could be taken out of the cave and his body is still resting at the hospital today.

He was also announced to be under His Majesty King Rama 10’s Royal Patronage.

According to the SEAL’s Commander Rear Admiral Apakorn Yuukongkaew, the SEAL spirit was still high and the rescue mission is still pronounced as ongoing and will not stop as it races against the unpredictable rain and water level within the cave to find the safest and fastest way to bring out the 13 lives.

“It (the risk) was well known and sacrifice was part of our job, We’re trained for this.”, said the Commander in a gloomy tone of voice.


Top: Petty Officer First Class Samarn Kunun who sadly died last night.

By Piboon Awasdaruharote