The Wild Boars are home. With a third and final effort, all 12 trapped boys and their coach from the depths of the Tham Luang Nang No caves.
The international team of 19 divers made their final 5 rescues the same way they made their first eight: slowly and carefully. The divers, three Navy SEALS, and a doctor, brought the boys up from the perilous depths two at a time, working through the cavern's narrows turns and murky water with precision.
Each boy was given a SCUBA mask, wetsuit, and helmet. Several of the boys had no previous swimming experience, let alone diving. Guided by a pre-fixed static rope, each boy was tethered to the lead diver, who also held their oxygen tanks. This process took hours. To deal with the extreme pressure of the situation, the boys were given anti-anxiety medication before their journey.
The successful rescue effort brings a happy ending to a saga that has gripped the globe for over two weeks. After the boy's soccer team, ages 11 to 16, went exploring in the Tham Luang caves after practice they were trapped underground by a flash flood. Presumed by many to be dead, they were discovered alive 9 days after their disappearance.
The discovery of all 12 boys alive brought with it joy and a maniacal focus on rescue. The effort presented significant challenges. The boys were deep below the surface with dwindling oxygen levels, sometimes as low as 15 percent. Any diver journeying into the cave would face 6 hours of swimming against the current through narrow passages, not to mention flash floods courtesy of Thailand's rainy season.
The challenges facing rescuers become personified in the form of Saman Kunan, an ex-Thai Navy SEAL who died after successfully bringing the boys oxygen tanks on July 6. A highly trained diver, Kunan was caught off-guard by a sudden flash flood and, lacking enough oxygen for himself, drowned.
Kunan's death was a blow to the morale of the rescue operations, which by that point had ballooned into a sprawling volunteer effort of over 2,000. While most of these volunteers were helpful, Thai officials found themselves turning away over-eager volunteers of all stripes. These ranged from people who near the cave site, which further flooded the caves, to billionaire Elon Musk, whose sudden proposal for a mini-submarine made out of rocket parts because it was "not practical for this mission."
But distractions aside, the divers were able to focus on their mission: saving the team. When the weather held, the divers took full advantage. Four boys were brought out. Then four more. And now, the entire team.
After discovery and rescue, the boys will now enter a third stage many were not sure they would ever see: recovery. All of the boys have been the focus of medical attention. However, considering how they all appear to be in fine health, their stays in hospital are proving to be much more pleasant.