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Thursday, July 12, 2018, 15:11
'You are my very heart': Wife of dead Thai cave diver mourns a hero
By Reuters
Thursday, July 12, 2018, 15:11 By Reuters

A Royal Thai Navy soldier carries a portrait of Saman Gunan, a former navy SEAL who died during a mission to rescue the 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in a Thai cave, during arrival honors for Gunan's remains at a military base in Chon Buri province on July 6, 2018. (PANUMAS SANGUANWONG / THAI NEWS PIX / AFP)

BANGKOK - The wife of a former Thai navy diver who died working to rescue a young soccer team trapped for days in a flooded cave said on Thursday she missed him dearly and urged the boys not to blame themselves for his death. 

I miss you. I love you like you are my very heart...from now on when I wake up...who will I kiss?

Valeepoan Kunan, wife of dead Thai navy diver Samarn Kunan

The rescued boys smiled and waved from their hospital beds in the first video clip released on Wednesday after an ordeal that has gripped the world. 

Samarn Kunan, 38, a former member of the elite navy SEALs unit, was the only casualty in a multinational operation to save the boys and their coach after monsoon rains trapped them in the cave they were exploring in northern Thailand. 

READ MORE: All 13 rescued from flooded Thai cave

"I love you so much," his widow, Valeepoan Kunan, wrote in the caption to a black-and-white photograph of her husband she posted on her Instagram account. 

"I miss you," she added. "I love you like you are my very heart...from now on when I wake up...who will I kiss?" 

Family members grieve during arrival honors for the remains of Saman Gunan, a former Royal Thai Navy SEAL who died during a mission to rescue the 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in a Thai cave, at a military base in Chon Buri province on July 6, 2018. (PANUMAS SANGUANWONG / THAI NEWS PIX / AFP)

The world should remember Samarn, the head of the rescue mission told a news conference at the end of the 17-day operation. 

"Samarn Kunan is the real hero," Narongsak Osottanakorn said. "On the day that he passed, the entire team was sad, but we used this sorrow. We saw that he gave his life for this cause." 

ALSO READ: Thais fight water and oxygen levels in cave as diver dies

A day earlier, Valeepoan posted a picture of her hand clasping that of her husband. 

People from around the world have offered condolences and commented on Valeepoan's social media accounts. 

"Our hearts go out to you and your family at this difficult time," read one comment. "Your husband is so brave. The world will not forget his kindness and all he did to save those boys." 

The body of Saman Gunan, a former Thai navy SEAL who died during a mission to save 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in a Thai cave, is carried during a repatriation and religious rites ceremony at Chiang Rai Airport in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, July 6, 2018. (PHOTO / AP)

A Thai artist has promised to create a statue of Samarn to be erected in Chiang Rai province, where the Tham Luang cave is situated. 

Samarn, an emergency rescue worker at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport after he left the SEALs in 2006, joined the cave rescue operation on July 1. 

British divers found the 13 young men huddled on a muddy ledge in a partly flooded chamber inside the cave. Samarn died on July 6 after losing consciousness during a mission to place oxygen tanks deep inside the cave, just two days before the first group of four boys was brought out. 

During the rescue, some Thais said on social media that the soccer team had been reckless in entering the cave during the rainy season. But Valeepoan absolved them of responsibility. 

"I want to tell the boys, please don't blame yourselves," Valeepoan told reporters. 

READ MORE: 'Everyone is safe' after daring rescue of 13 in Thai cave

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