PADI Awards Medal of Valour to Thai Cave Rescuers

thai cave divers title

From L-R (top) Jason Mallinson, Rick Stanton (bottom) Richard Harris, Chris Jewell, John Volanthen

The divers instrumental in the rescue of 12 Thai boys and their football coach from a Chiang Rai cave in July this year are to be awarded PADI's first ever 'Medal of Valour' in recognition of their efforts.

Rick Stanton, John Volanthen, Dr Richard Harris, Jason Mallinson and Chris Jewell will be awarded the medal at the PADI social event at this year's DEMA show in Las Vegas on 13 November. Their heroic rescue of the Wild Boars youth football team prompted PADI to create the medal to formally recognise their contributions to one of the most challenging rescue operations in scuba diving history.

The team and their coach had been trapped for a total of 19 days after monsoon rains flooded the Tham Luang cave system in northern Thailand. Rescue attempts were hampered by the volume of water, extremely narrow passageways and the threat of further rain. Thai Navy Seal Saman Kunan tragically lost his life during the attempt. 

With the world's media focused on the rescue, expert cave divers from around the world descended on Chiang Rai. Over 1,000 volunteers were involved in the rescue.

thai cave 4

'It was an awe-inspiring example of humanity at its best, focused on a single noble purpose,' said Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. 'This complex rescue operation demonstrated action and focus propelled by the unshakeable conviction that those boys would not die on diving’s watch. Rick Stanton, Jason Mallinson and everyone who was part of this effort faced and accepted the difficulties, dangers and risks inherent in the rescue. On behalf of the entire PADI family, it is an honour to recognize these heroes and extend our immense gratitude for representing diving’s finest hour.'

British duo John Volanthen and Richard Stanton, members of the voluntary British Cave Rescue Council were first to make contact with the boys, 'rake thin and exhausted' after already having been trapped for 9 days on a raised area of the cave system known as Pattaya Beach. Together with Jason Mallinson, also a member of the UK's international cave rescue team and Chris Jewell, a UK based exploratory cave diver, they led the rescue operations which eventually saw the boys and their coach brought safely to the surface. 

Dr Richard 'Harry' Harris, an Australian specialist in anaesthesia and aeromedical retrieval medicine, played a critical role in the operation, administering sedatives to the boys to facilitate their extraction under extreme and complex conditions. 

'Their daring mission is a wonderful opportunity to show the world what the diving community is made of, and what can be accomplished through a combination of proper training, trust, courage, passion and perseverance,' says Richardson.





Love diving? You'll love these. Sign up today to immediately download our unique FREE gifts -

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 WRECKS - DIVE's 70-page, beautifully illustrated, colour guide to the world’s best wrecks

SCUBA STORIES - DIVE's collection of real life stories where divers, who have got themselves into perilous situations, describe how they reacted and what actions they took to ensure they lived to tell the tale

PACIFICHighlights of the Pacific - Dancing mantas in Hawaii • The Best Diving in the World, Galápagos, Cocos, Malpelo & Socorro • Mass Spawning Events in Palau

Sidebar SUBSCRIBE large2

Destinations Spotlight

Need inspiration for your next dive trip? Try one of our featured destinations from DIVE's travel partners.

sidebar philippines sidebar bahamas sidebar mexico sidebar fiji sidebar st helena Sidebar Egypt sidebar banner sabah sidebar banner belize sidebar banner south africa

DIVE Partners

sidebar banner egypt new ceningan divers ad 300x100 LH 300 min giphy subex Wakatobi Siladen Aggressor Fisheye Dive Worldwide gozo banner Arenui

Latest Articles

Read DIVE magazine

DIVE magazine is available to read on many devices. Simply click one one of the options below

PCMac final
Apple finalAndroid final

Like what you see?

Join us on social and keep updated daily...