You'll always be with me: Widow of Thai cave rescue diver

Petty Officer 1st class Saman Gunan, 38, who had joined the rescue operation, collapsed and died during the operation in the Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district at about 1am on July 6, 2018.
Petty Officer 1st class Saman Gunan, 38, who had joined the rescue operation, collapsed and died during the operation in the Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district at about 1am on July 6, 2018.PHOTO: THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

ROI ET, THAILAND - As the world rejoices at the miraculous escape of 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand, the wife of a former Thai Navy Seal who died during the rescue operation is mourning his death online.

Valeepoan Kunan, the widow of Saman Gunan, has been posting touching tribute messages to her late husband on her Instagram in the run-up to his cremation in his home province of Roi Et on Saturday (July 14), reported Thai news outlet Khaosod on Wednesday.

"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," reads a message posted on Saturday.

"I miss you. I love you so much; I love you like you're my very heart," reads Valeepoan's latest Instagram post. "I don't know why I love you so much… from now on when I wake up... who will I kiss?"

"I wish I could turn back time and stop it forever," reads another post by Valeepoan.

She shared pictures of their time together and photos of her late husband.

The 38-year-old worked for Airports of Thailand as a security officer at Suvarnabhumi airport and took time off work to help his Seal colleagues with the rescue mission that gripped the nation and the rest of the world. He left the Navy Seal unit in 2006.

He died last Friday when he ran out of oxygen while returning from the chamber where the boys were trapped.

He had been tasked to deliver oxygen tanks into the cave and passed out while returning rescuers' used air tanks to the rescue base camp set up inside the cave.

Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, and he was declared dead at around 1am last Friday. The diver's father, Wichai Gunan, 60, was reported by Thai media to have collapsed in grief when told of his death, reported Bangkok Post.

Many took to social media to mourn the diver's death, sharing portraits and illustrations of him with members of the football team which goes by the name "Moo Pa" (Wild Boars) Academy.

His death highlighted the difficulties of working in the cave complex, with its flooded passageways, murky water and at times strong currents.

"We lost one man, but we still have faith to carry out our work," Navy Seal commander Aphakorn Yoo-kongkaew said at that time.

"We won't let his life be in vain. We will carry on," Admiral Aphakorn added.  

In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha paid tribute to Saman.

Prayut said Saman's legacy "will forever be in our hearts".

A 15 sq m structure for the cremation has been completed, according to Thai media, with free shuttle to be provided by a local bus company from Wednesday.