This story has been everywhere, so I'm going to assume everyone knows the basics. But one thing that strikes me as underreported in some areas is just now multi-national the rescue effort was, with British and Australian divers working alongside our own US troops out of Okinawa. And of course the Thai SEALs leading the whole thing. There are only a total of 144 Thai SEALs, and they have strong training ties to our US equivalent.
If you don't know the basics, here is a video taken before the kids were all rescued (and are recovering fine) from CNN that actually had a bit more depth to the rescue operation itself than other videos I found:
An article in Stars and Stripes Tuesday noted a US presence in the rescue operations:
Dozens of U.S. military personnel, including pararescue airmen based in Okinawa, were part of a multinational effort that saved 12 young soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand. The final boy and his coach were rescued Tuesday.
State Department spokesman Steve Castonguay in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand, where the operation unfolded, said in an email Tuesday that Thai authorities had the lead with about 40 American servicemembers in support.
“The U.S. team here consists of a survival specialist and pararescue specialists trained in personnel recovery techniques and procedures, as well as their support personnel,” he said. The group also included Army personnel from a civil military support element, he said.
U.S. Special Operations Command tweeted photographs Tuesday of American servicemembers working on the rescue operations. They show an American servicemember looking at a map with his Thai counterparts, and other U.S. troops hiking into the jungle.
And yesterday I found out that a 2000 graduate of my Alma Mater, The Citadel, was very involved:
As the final moments of an 18-day ordeal unfolded before him, Citadel graduate and Air Force Maj. Charles Hodges felt a sense of relief, the same one felt the world over.
Twelve boys and their soccer coach, stranded in a cave in northern Thailand, had been rescued and were safe.
“When the boys left the cave, obviously there was a big sigh of relief,” said Hodges, a 2000 Citadel graduate and U.S. mission commander for the 353rd Special Operations unit based at Kadena Air Base in Japan. “Everyone knew that a big home run had been hit.”
Hodges, from Winnsboro, and the 353rd were part of a multi-national effort to save the boys. One former Thai Navy SEAL diver died in the rescue operation.
“It took every single one of us, putting our heads together and pushing aside any sort of of political or cultural differences and doing our best to find a solution to do this,” Hodges said in an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday. “What I take away from this is how much can be accomplished from teamwork, because it was pretty impressive.”
Here is the interview Major Hodges did with CBS:
The boys themselves are doing quite well reports USA Today:
Video released Wednesday from the hospital shows the boys, wearing hospital gowns and masks and sitting up in their beds, making victory signs to the camera and waving to ecstatic parents. Family members, some near tears, wave back from behind glass.
The boys were famished and weak when they were found, having lost an average of more than 4 pounds each. But their spirits were high, and the rescue team brought them nutritional gels to slowly build their strength.
All will remain in the hospital for several more days. They are now eating regular food, and some will be going home in a week.
"Overall, the 13 people are in very good condition," Thai health official Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong said.
For more on what went on, why they were that far in, how it was accomplished, and some awesome graphics like the one above, go read this article from the BBC which gives good credit to the Thai government for moving so rapidly and allowing others to help:
Once foreign divers arrived, from many different countries, the Thai authorities allowed them to devise first the search, and then the enormously complex rescue. It was a huge logistical operation involving hundreds of people, building guide rope and pulley systems, putting in power and communication cables.
It is to Thailand's credit that it was organised so well, and there was no attempt to diminish the foreign contribution.