Column: Hope for Thai soccer team's rescue

Paul W. Smith

“Outta’ My Mind on a Monday Moanin’ ”

As I write this, we know them as the 12 Thai soccer boys and their coach, filled with new hope, food and medicine, wrapped in foil warming blankets, are protected (best they can be) by heroic Thai Navy SEALs.

The first light they had seen in almost two weeks shone back into the cave to expose impossibly bright smiles, given the circumstances and what they have already been through and what they still will face ahead.

FILE - In this handout photo released by Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center, Thai rescue teams use headlamps to enter a pitch-black cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Monday, July 2, 2018. The group was discovered late July 2 after 10 days totally cut off from the outside world, and while they are for the most physically healthy, experts say the ordeal has likely taken a mental toll that could worsen the longer the situation lasts.

We have the technology to see them, almost reach out and touch them.

But not to save them.


Sadly, we’ve already lost one former Navy SEAL who died delivering oxygen masks to the boys.  An experienced diver dying under these circumstances underscores the extreme peril the boys face.

An operation was underway Sunday to rescue the boys and their coach. The rescue plan calls for each boy to be escorted by at least two highly skilled cave divers, and they will be brought out gradually.

Initially, rescuers wrestled with the decision about the way we were going to get the team out. Among the choices was teaching them to swim out through the dark waters with masks, air and brave experienced divers guiding them. Much more rain is forecast, and it will only make everything worse.

I say “we,” because, not only is the world watching, the world is sending people, know-how and equipment to help extract these young boys safely from the cave. Over a thousand people are on the ground from around the world to try to help save these young boys most involved don’t know at all.

Paul W. Smith is host of The Paul W. Smith Show on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.