Thai Navy SEALs Receive a Hero’s Welcome Following Cave Rescue

July 12, 2018 Last Updated: July 12, 2018

The head of a Thai navy SEAL diving team that helped lead 12 boys and their soccer coach through a flooded cave complex to safety urged the boys on Thursday to “live their lives worthily” and be a force for good.

Thirteen foreign divers and five Thai Navy SEALs guided the boys and their coach out in a complicated three-day operation in Tham Luang cave that ended on Tuesday. Footage released by the SEALs showed parts of the perilous rescue operation that captivated the world.

The Navy SEALs left the northern province of Chiang Rai on Thursday and returned to a hero’s welcome at an air base outside Bangkok. Those involved in the rescue were given large garlands made from marigolds as navy officers and proud civilians stood by. Some well-wishers at the air base brought red roses for the team.

“I would like to tell the kids to live their lives worthily and make their lives useful for the country. Their adventurous story can inspire the younger generations,” Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yookongkaew, who led the Thai navy SEAL diving team in the ordeal, told Reuters after touching down at the air base.

Health officials said the boys would spend at least a week in the hospital and around 30 days recovering at home following more than two weeks trapped inside the flooded cave complex. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said on Wednesday the operation was nothing short of a miracle.