The U.S. military was directly involved in the rescue of 12 youth soccer players and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand.
A team of 42 U.S. service members from the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group Thailand, the majority coming from the 353rd Special Operations Group, helped to clear the way inside the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning revealed Monday, according to DoD News.
The president referenced the U.S. military’s involvement in a tweet Sunday.
The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2018
U.S. military personnel helped prepare the first three chambers of the cave for safe passage, assisted Thai Navy SEALS as they escorted the boys along the 2.4-mile escape route and provided medical and technical assistance, Military.com reported Tuesday.
The U.S. sent a search and rescue team to assist with the #ThailandCaveRescue. The men and women of the 353rd Special Operations Group have been directly supporting this international mission for almost two weeks. pic.twitter.com/drr5rP5ugk
— USSOCOM (@USSOCOM) July 10, 2018
During rescue operations, the Pentagon described the cooperation between international teams as “positive and effective.”
“Coordination and interaction with Thai military, Thai government, and other multinational civilians and government entities remains extremely positive and effective,” Manning explained. “We continue to fully support the multinational rescue effort and pray for the safe return of the remaining members of the team.”
“Airmen from [Kadena Air Base’s] 353rd U.S. Special Operations Group and U.S. Pararescue teams, survival specialists, divers and medical personnel are on the ground supporting the Thai-led international rescue,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright said in a post on Facebook Tuesday.
“This 18-day rescue effort has been nothing short of phenomenal. It also serves as a great example of teamwork, resilience, ingenuity and never quitting. Our Airmen helped make the impossible a reality!” he added.
Rescuers managed to save all of the stranded soccer players and their coach, freeing the last of them Tuesday, the third day of an international rescue operation. (RELATED: REPORT: All Boys And Coach Freed From Thai Cave)
The “Wild Boars,” as the team is called, first found themselves stuck in the cave on June 23, when heavy rains filled the tunnels with water making them impossible to traverse without the necessary equipment.
The only casualty so far was 38-year-old Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan, who died Friday after running out of air inside the cave.
“The death of the former Thai Navy SEAL illustrates the difficulty of this rescue. His sacrifice will not be forgotten,” Manning said, honoring a brave man who lost his life trying to rescue the kids and their coach.
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