The wife of the Thai Navy SEAL who died during the rescue attempts of the trapped soccer team and their coach in a flooded cave in northern Thailand has made a heartbreaking tribute to her late husband.
Petty Officer First Class Saman Gunan died on July 6 as he returned from delivering oxygen to the 12 boys and their football coach.
Saman lost consciousness after he ran out of oxygen on his way out of the Tham Luang cave.
His wife, Waleeporn, said her husband’s death had been difficult to comprehend.
“It’s like I’ve died, but I’m still alive… but I use pride to repress my sadness,” she told the BBC.
She revealed her husband, an avid cyclist and runner, has been hailed “a hero” for his selfless acts, saying he was a keen charity worker.
The mourning by his friends and family come in stark contrast to the jubilant scenes late on Tuesday as it was confirmed all 12 boys and their coach had been successfully extracted from the cave.
His funeral was held at a temple in the province of Roi Et in eastern Thailand, where friends, family and colleagues paid their respects.
“The determination and dedication of Saman will always be in all of our frogmen hearts,” the Thai Navy SEALs said in a statement after his death.
“Today Saman rests. We will complete this mission, just as Saman intended.”
- Aussie doctor pushes on in Thai rescue despite past caving tragedy
- Four more boys removed from Thai cave on second day of rescue mission
- How the first group of boys were rescued from flooded Thai cave
- The challenges facing the rescue of the Thai boys trapped in flooded cave
- Coach of trapped soccer team apologises to parents in letter sent out with divers
Saman posted a video of himself the day before he flew north to help with the rescue mission.
“See you at Tham Luang in Chiang Rai,” he says in the clip.
“May good luck be on our side to bring the boys back home.”
Following his death, his wife said she “loved him so much. I really loved him”.
“I want to tell you honey… you are the hero in my heart,” Waleeporn said.
Her father also gave a heartfelt message to his son, telling him: “Daddy loves you.”