A British diver who led efforts to rescue a trapped boys soccer team in Thailand returned to the United Kingdom on Thursday.
John Volanthen returned to his home country after helping rescue the 12 boys.
Volanthen and fellow Brit Rick Stanton were the first rescuers to find the boys deep in the Tham Luang cave complex. With the help of 16 other divers, they ferried the boys and their coach to safety through intense stretches of water.
“We were very pleased and we were very relieved that they were all alive, but I think at that point we realized the enormity of the situation, and that’s perhaps why it took a while to get them all out,” Volanthen told Reuters after landing in the United Kingdom.
— francaf (@kikka09f) July 12, 2018
The team and coach had ventured into the complex after a practice but became trapped when heavy rains flooded the way they’d come in.
“We were very very pleased it worked out quite so well, it worked out, the results speak for themselves. I think it was the result of an international team of military and civilian divers working alongside the Thai Navy. Everybody pulled together and the results speak for themselves, so we’re just very happy that the boys are out and safe,” Volanthen told reporters.
The IT tech said that the divers were not heroes and directed attention to the rest of his team and the Thai Navy Seals.
Totally agree. Extraordinary actions of Rick Stanton and John Volanthen deserve the George Cross, the highest civilian award for bravery, for "acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger." https://t.co/sPL4xqPrNV
— Owen Paterson MP (@OwenPaterson) July 12, 2018
Five Seals and 13 foreign divers worked together to rescue the boys.
There’s been talk of awarding Volanthen and Stanton with the George Cross, the highest civilian award in the UK for acts of heroism.
MP Owen Patterson was among those saying he felt the men deserved the award, crediting the men for their efforts. The men have already received an award from the Royal Humane Society.