BANGKOK, Thailand As Thais and millions of other people across the globe celebrated the miraculous rescue of the 13 "Mu Pa" (Wild Boars) football team members from a flooded cave in Chiang Rai Tuesday night, Valeepoan Kunan, 35, quietly mourned the loss of a man she had affectionately called "Sgt Sam".
Valeepoan's husband Sgt Saman Kunan, 38, suffocated and died last Friday after delivering the much-needed oxygen tanks inside Chamber 3 in the Tham Luang Cave during the dangerous mission to save the boys and their coach.
The former Royal Thai Navy SEAL diver and a known fitness buff among his friends has been hailed as a hero by Thais and others for paying the ultimate price in national duty, becoming the one and only casualty in the 17-day rescue mission which gripped the whole world.
As she gets ready to cremate her beloved husband on Saturday in his hometown in Roi Et Province, northeast Thailand, Valeepoan shared her thoughts about Saman in an emotional posting on her Instagram account.
"I miss you. I love you so much; I love you like you're my very heart, " was her latest post several hours ago.
She also posted several intimate pictures of her and her late husband in the social media account.
I wish I could turn back time and stop it forever, was another of Valeepoan's posts about the tragedy that had struck her husband.
You'll always be with me ...there's no one like you if you're not with me, I don't want to go on breathing because we promised each other we would use the same breath, wrote Valeepoan in her Instagram post a day after the passing of her husband.
"From now on, when I wake up who will I kiss? she wrote.
After completing his service with the elite unit, Saman joined Airports of Thailand (AOT) where he was attached to the security unit at Suvarnabhumi Airport. The former SEAL diver was also a national triathlete.
A sense of duty for his country eventually pulled Saman out of retirement, when he volunteered his services to the country he loved so dearly and joined his other former SEAL colleagues in the Tham Luang Cave to save the boys.
Let's bring the boys home, he vowed in a clip just before he flew out to Chiang Rai to be with his SEAL mates.
Besides his wife Valeepoan, the brave diver also left behind his parents and a younger sister.
His father, Wichai Kunan, 60, reportedly fell to the ground while working in a farm when informed about the death of his only son.
Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn has also expressed deep condolences over the death of Saman and also announced that the late former SEAL diver be given royally sponsored funeral rites.
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, in a statement Wednesday, thanked all parties who were involved in the successful rescue mission and also made a special mention about the late Saman.
"His honour, sacrifice and legacy will forever be in our hearts," he said of the former SEAL diver.
"He is our true hero, Tham Luang hero," said the head of the rescue operation Narongsak Ossothankorn when he spoke to the media late Tuesday night, not long the last and 13th "Wild Boar" was hauled to safety from the flooded cave.
Source: NAM News Network