Good People Doing Good Things — The Rescue

Today’s ‘good people’ post is a little different that most, for I do not know, with a couple of exceptions, the names of the good people, nor do I have pictures of them or know anything about them … only that they are good people.  The story is one we are all familiar with, one that kept us on the edges of our seats from June 23rd until July 10th. It is the story of a Thai boys’ soccer team, the Wild Boars, and 12 members of that team and their coach, who were trapped in a flooded cave for more than two weeks.  The good people are the divers, Seals and other rescuers, of course, but also the volunteers.  Volunteers came from Finland, Britain, China, Spain, Australia and the United States.

Not much is known about the many people who spent days helping in one way or another, but one woman’s story was told and I want to share it with you.

Her name is Mae Bua Chaicheun and she is a small-scale rice farmer, owning about 5 acres of land in a small village near the mountain where the boys’ soccer team was trapped in the cave.  When news broke that an entire soccer team was trapped in a cave, Chaicheun dropped everything and headed to the mountainside to help.  Chaicheun spent a week at the cave, cooking meals for the rescue workers and pitching in wherever she was needed.  But when she returned home, she found her rice fields in ruin.  The water that was being continuously pumped out from the cave during the rescue mission, along with heavy rains, had flooded the area and her rice crop was gone. Mae Bua ChaicheunBut Ms. Chaicheun is not complaining.  “When I got home the water was two feet deep, and the young plants were flooded. Children are more important than rice. We can regrow rice but we can’t regrow the children. I feel people have shown more love towards each other. There’s such a strong community spirit, people all wanting to help each other.”  What a beautiful attitude – a beautiful woman, yes?  An addendum:  the Thai king has pledged to purchase all the ruined rice crops from Ms. Chaicheun and others whose crops fell victim to the pumped waters.

Rescue mission chief Narongsak Osottanakorn is calling Saman Guana, the former Navy SEAL who died during the rescue, the hero of the mission.  Petty Officer Saman had completed an operation to deliver air tanks and was swimming from chamber four to chamber three, the main operating base for the SEALs and divers within the complex, when he lost consciousness.Saman Guana.jpgA dive buddy tried to administer first aid in the water and then got Petty Officer Saman through to chamber three, where further attempts were made to revive him but it was too late. His body was then taken to a local hospital and the Thai king said that he would have a funeral with full honours.

When rescuers began pumping water from the cave, it quickly became obvious that they needed more pumps.  The call for pumps went out and pumps began arriving from all over the country.  One man, Worawut Imchit drove overnight from a shrimp farm 850 miles to the south, bringing four flatbed trucks carrying four of the massive pumps that circulate water through the ponds.  He then spent the next three days and nights helping to oversee the pumping operation.

“It was three sleepless days for me. I ran like a crazy man, up and down, back and forth between the pumps to make sure everything was functioning normally.”

Asaf Zmirly, an Israeli living in Bangkok, arrived with radios flown in from Israel that could operate within the cave, adjusting to the topography and creating a daisy-chain-like network.

Ruengrit Changkwanyuen, a Thai regional manager for General Motors, was among the first volunteer cave divers to show up at the scene.

Danish volunteer diver Ivan Karadzic, who owns a diving school in Koh Tao, Thailand, came and brought every piece of equipment he owned, saying he was prepared to stay for as long as it took to rescue the boys.

Dr Richard HarrisAnd then there was Dr. Richard Harris, an Australian doctor who was on holiday in Thailand when he heard the news and cut short his vacation.  He initially went into the cave to assess the boys’ health, and ended up staying until all 12 boys and their coach had been rescued.  Because he had cave-diving experience, Dr. Harris, known as Harry to the boys in the cave, was specifically requested by the “highest levels” of the Thai government to join the rescue. He and three Thai Navy Seal divers were the last four to emerge from the cave.  On a sad note, Dr. Harris found out on the day after the successful rescue mission that his own father had died.

Dr Harris and four Seal divers

Dr. Harris and 3 Thai Navy Seal divers

International rescuers included US air force rescue specialists, and cave divers from the UK, Belgium, Australia, Scandinavia, and many other countries. Some had volunteered, and some were called in by Thai authorities.  Overall some 10,000 people participated, including 2,000 soldiers, 200 divers and representatives from 100 government agencies. And rescue volunteers, like Mae Bua Chaicheun, poured in from all over.  They cooked for the rescue teams, helped man the pumps, cleaned toilets, drove rescuers up and down the mountain, and took the rescuers muddy clothes to a local laundromat every night.

We know the names of only the few, but each and every person who gave of themselves, their time, equipment, expertise, or other resources to rescue these boys and their coach are good people in my book, and the world owes them a heartfelt “Thank You”.

soccer team just before cave

The Wild Boars, minutes before entering the cave

19 thoughts on “Good People Doing Good Things — The Rescue

  1. A bit late with my response here Jill.

    I know Thailand very well. Those deep cave systems are dangerous when they are dry, led alone when they are flooded.

    Chiang Rai is in the North of Thailand, not far from the borders with Myanmar and Laos. While it is a city, it doesn’t have the wealth and resources of Bangkok (500km+ to the South). Some of those rescuer participants have travelled over 1000km to join in the search or provide equipment.

    ‘Mae Bua’ means ‘Lotus,’ a sacred flower in Thailand. Chaicheun is so typical of the good will we see from Thai proposed. While we do not speak Thai, and they only speak a little English, they make all people feel welcome. They tend to be highly charitable people and share misfortune and good fortune with their family, friends and neighbours.

    The government is a dictatorship, but that doesn’t denigrate it entirely. There is also a big split of power and wealth in Thailand. But overall, it is one of the kindest, most respectful places that I have ever visited.

    Those boys are so lucky in many respects. Psychologists here in the UK have said that they will be traumatised by their ordeal, and that the public presentation of the boys to the press was staged. What they do not realise, is that the Thais are very formal, they do everything in this manner. The boys will be well used to that form of things, even at school. I do not believe they will be traumatised for long. Their families will be hugely supportive and loving to them. Family is everything to Thai people, and they will foresake everything for their children.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for the background info, Colette! Yes, the boys were indeed lucky, and frankly when I first heard of the situation, the rains, the flooding, I didn’t expect the rescue to be successful. I’m so glad I was wrong!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful story, to show us that we humans are so much more than the Trumps et al of the world would want us to believe. I have linked to your blog, with an especial mention of Mae Bua Chaicheun. Her quote sums up what this rescue was all about.

    Liked by 2 people

        • You are so very right about that. That is why those who do not approve of Trump SEEM like they are in the minority, though we are actually the majority. You’ve heard the expression “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”? That is just it … the good people that I focus on every Wednesday are quietly going about the business of trying to make the world just a little bit better. The others, however, spend their time tooting their horns and criticizing all who don’t agree with them. I sometimes compare them to hyenas! 😉


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  4. I had followed this story with interest and concern for all involved. To risk one’s life for someone that you know and love is already laudatory, to do the same thing for those you do not know is an outstanding act of heroism. I was deeply saddened about the diver that lost his life. The loss of one life is one too many. It was an amazing feat and all who contributed in any way are heroes! Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you that one life lost is one too many, but I’ve read two in-depth accounts of the rescue, and from what I gather, it was nothing short of a miracle that more weren’t lost. Yes, it is a brave person who risks their life for a total stranger, and I am reminded of the days and weeks after 9/11, the men and women who worked tirelessly at Ground Zero … most dead of related health problems now. 😥

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful and uplifting.
    Thank you for posting this.
    But what is it with Elon Musk? Calling a cave-diving hero a ‘pedophile’. Is this guy insane?
    What is it with the world.
    All my love
    ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jack! Musk wanted them to try out an invention of his, a very small submarine, but the engineers and rescuers declined, saying it wasn’t the best idea for this particular rescue. I think Musk, who is used to getting praise and accolades, was offended and shot back. An asinine thing to do, and I hear he has since apologized. No place for egos in a situation like this one. Yeah, you hit the nail on the head … “What is wrong with the world?” I dunno, my friend.
      Love ‘n hugs … ❤ ❤ ❤


  6. These people were totally selfless. What a lesson this could be if we could raise our standards this way without an emergency. The boys and their coach were lucky that some people over the world have learned that caring for others is a natural thing.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! I was in awe to read how many people pitched in … 10,000 people to save 12 young boys. This should be a shining example to the entire world! The coach and boys were lucky indeed … I suspect the will never forget this (and never want to go into another cave!) and hopefully they will grow to be the kind of people who jump in to help others because of what was done for them.

      Liked by 2 people

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