Rescued Thai Soccer Players Consider Becoming Buddhist Monks Navy SEAL

This action will be a tribute to Saman Kunan, the diver who died trying to save them.

A few days after Thai Navy SEALs rescued 12 Thai school children and their 25-year-old coach from Nang Non cave, the boys informed the media they are toying with the thought of becoming novice monks . This entry to monkhood will be the children's tribute to the sole casualty in the daredevil rescue mission, 38-year-old Saman Kunan. The rescue efforts took the life of the Thai Navy SEAL.

In one emotional moment, Saman Gunan's portrait was displayed during the press conference. Coach Ekapol "Ake" Chanthawong said he felt sad and was impressed Kunan sacrificed his own life to ensure all the 13 children he came to rescue lived to carry on with their lives normally. The former Navy SEAL was the sole fatality in the rescue operation.

The boys cannot be ordained as full monks as only men above 20 years of age are eligible to take such a step. The boys, instead, would be ordained as “nen” or novices. The nens have fewer restrictions. Among the 12, one is not eligible for monkhood as he is a Christian. Most Thais practice Theravada Buddhism and ordaining to become a monk and then donating the accrued merit is considered one of the highest honors which one person can gift to another.

The 11 schoolchildren and their coach Chanthawong prayed in tandem to chanting monks in the Buddhist Wat Pra That Doi Wao temple during a ceremony done to extend a person's life and protect it from various dangers. Friends and relatives joined them when they kneeled and pressed hands in prayer.

Chanthawong himself was a novice monk for almost 10 years. He reportedly taught his wards the meditation techniques to help them retain their scant energy and to keep calm. The children and their coach were released from the hospital on July 18, after a week-long stay. According to the coach, he and his wards walked inside the cave system on June 23 after the Wild Boars completed their soccer practice. Then misfortune stuck as torrential rains filled the cavern with water, cutting off their escape. They were forced to huddle on a small area of dry ground a few kilometers into the cave. Chanthawong tried to find a way out but were forced to fall back. They were found by two British divers a couple of days later. The children survived by drinking water which dripped from cave walls.

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