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DoD Personnel Assist in Thai Cave Rescue Operations

Airmen from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) prepare for dive operations July 2, 2018, at Chiang Rai, Thailand. At the request of the Royal Thai government, the United States, through USINDOPACOM, sent a search and rescue team from Okinawa, Japan to assist Thai rescue authorities in locating 12 youth football players and their coach. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Jessica Tait)

Defense Department personnel continue to assist in the rescue operations in Thailand to evacuate the remaining four boys and their coach from a flooded cave system, the director of defense press operations said today.

Airmen from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command meet with Thai military officials and a Thai engineering company in Chiang Rai, Thailand, to advise and assist in operation to rescue members of a soccer team and their coach, June 30, 2018. The United States sent a search and rescue team to the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand at the request of the Thai government to assist in the rescue mission. Air Force photo by Capt. Jessica Tait

The DoD effort consists of 42 deployed military personnel and one member from the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group Thailand, Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.

“Coordination and interaction with Thai military, Thai government, and other multinational civilians and government entities remains extremely positive and effective,” he said.

U.S. personnel have staged equipment and prepared the first three chambers of the cave system for safe passage, he said. They are assisting in transporting the evacuees through the final chambers of the cave system, and are providing medical personnel and other technical assistance to the rescue efforts, he added.

Multinational Rescue Effort

“We continue to fully support the multinational rescue effort and pray for the safe return of the remaining members of the team,” Manning said.

The soccer team and their coach entered the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand on June 23 and were trapped by floodwaters. Eight boys have been rescued so far.

Manning paid tribute to former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan, who died after delivering oxygen tanks in the cave.

“The death of the former Thai Navy SEAL illustrates the difficulty of this rescue,” Manning said. “His sacrifice will not be forgotten.”