Thai Cave Rescue: Australian Doctor Downplays Hero Role
Richard Harris has paid tribute to the bravery of the trapped boys and rescuers.
Australian doctor Richard Harris has lauded the efforts of "all the people who were in some way involved" in the successful cave dive rescue of 12 trapped boys and their football coach in Thailand.
Harris, an anesthetist from Adelaide, was last out of the cave after being tasked with giving the medical all-clear for each mission to save the boys at Tham Luang Cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai.
In the wake of the global headline-grabbing operation, the doctor has been described as a key part of the rescue but has been keen to highlight the role of others.
Posting a message to Facebook on Friday night, Harris praised everyone involved in the massive effort as he headed home with dive partner Craig Challen in the back of an RAAF C17 transport aircraft.
"I wanted to write this to try and give credit to all the people who were in some way involved," he wrote.
"Craig (Challen) and I have had a spotlight on our efforts and we want to make everyone realise that while we might have become the face of this rescue for some reason, everyone should know that the role we played was no more or less important than all the many hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people I have mentioned.
"The part we played has been made out to be a lot more noble than it actually was, we just consider ourselves lucky to have had some skills that we could contribute to the wonderful outcome."
Harris' heroic effort at Chiang Rai was tinged with tragedy when it emerged that his father died shortly after the Wild Boars team and coach were extracted.
When he touches down on home soil, the Aussie specialist is expected to take some time to grieve the loss of his dad and reconnect with his family after shooting to international fame due to his central role in the rescue.
On Facebook, Harris described the flight home as a chance to reflect on “the extraordinary events of the past eight days”.
"When it seemed all other options were exhausted, the decision to swim the players out was made and the rescue went ahead," he wrote.
"As the kids came out, the 4 British rescue divers were supported by Craig and I, three other very talented young CDG divers from the UK (Connor, Josh and Jim) and the Euro divers (Erik, Ivan, our good mate Claus and Nikko).
"The pressure that was put on these guys was immense and they never dropped the ball for a second."
The caving specialist also sent “heartfelt condolences” to the family of former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Gunan who died during the rescue efforts.
He saved special mention for the multi-nation team that took part in the rescue as well as thousands of online supporters from around the globe.
"Finally to the thousands of well-wishers from Thailand and around the world; we promise we have read every message!"
As Harris heads home, the 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach continue their recovery in hospital before leaving on July 19, health minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said on Saturday.