The Thai cave rescue of 2018 is a widely-known story. It started simple and innocently enough. A young soccer coach took his team out after practice for some recreation, team building, and bonding. These are all things that, on paper, most people can agree are good things. Becoming one with nature, exploring with a guide, and having fun with your friends are things everyone across this country has been told to do more of.
Unfortunately for the Wild Boars association football team and their coach Ekkapol Chantawong, things would take a harsh turn for the worst. A simple adventure inside of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave that was supposed to last around an hour or so turned into an international rescue mission that captivated the world and ended up costing two heroes their lives. Part of these efforts included the U.S. Air Force, a storyline that will be followed in the upcoming film from noted director Ron Howard called Thirteen Lives, which follows a character based on USAF Maj. Charles Hodges, who was part of the Thai cave rescue.
‘Thirteen Lives’ Tells the Story of the Daring 2018 Thai Cave Rescue
Starring Josh Helman, Joel Edgerton, Viggo Mortensen, and Colin Farrell, Thirteen Lives is the story of the Thailand cave rescue that brings the story of those fateful days to life on the big screen. The harrowing story follows the USAF and other rescuers who worked together to deliver supplies and ultimately rescue the soccer team and their coach. The cave rescue in Thailand has been explored before in film. In 2019, The Cave, another Thailand cave rescue movie, was released in Thailand, showcasing the story. Americans can view Thirteen Lives in late summer 2022, as its theatrical release date is slated for July 29, 2022. The film will be available on Prime Video beginning on August 5 for streamers.
Did Anyone Die in the Thai Cave Rescue?
Yes, there were two deaths related to the Thai cave rescue in 2018. While all of the boys who were stuck, as well as their coach, were able to be rescued, two heroes who bravely risked, and ultimately lost, their lives were not so lucky. The first death related to the rescue was Lt. Cmdr. Saman Kunan. He was a 37-year-old retired Royal Thai Navy SEAL who passed away while returning to a staging base within the cave following the delivery of diving cylinders to those trapped inside. His death was ruled as death by asphyxiation on July 6, 2018.
The second death also affected Thai cave rescue divers but would do so well after the rescue attempt took place. Petty Officer 1st Class Beirut Pakbara was a Thai Navy SEAL who died from an infection he contracted during the operation. The infection would end up spreading to his blood, causing him to pass away in December 2019.
The Thai Cave Rescue Is an Example of Heroism Outside of War
Beyond the theatrics on display through Thirteen Lives, the military is often displayed as a heroic entity due to its fights in war. This shouldn’t be negated nor forgotten, as the sacrifice and risks that come with such territories are beyond commendable. These themes make for good movies due to the explosive action, political narratives, and romanticism that can be employed, but it’s interesting to see a non-war military piece of cinema highlighting the importance of those who serve.
American Forces are there to help keep us safe and assist through humanitarian efforts like the Thai cave rescue. The brave men who died during this operation may not have been American, but this, too, is interesting and important to note. In an increasingly shrinking world, the international community coming together for the betterment of man is a beautiful thing to remember during such times of divisiveness. In the end, we’re all human, and those who served, especially those who died, showed us all that while our individual countries and creeds do matter, humanity matters most of all.
Image: Thai Navy