There is no shortage of unsung heroes in the valiant rescue operation that freed 12 Thai boys from a cave and captivated the world for over a week. But as the dust settles, the accolades for one Australian doctor who volunteered to stay with the boys in the flooded cave for three days are starting to pour in.
A trained diver and avid underwater photographer, Dr. Richard Harris was on vacation in Thailand when he learned that the boys were trapped. Instead of continuing his holiday, he volunteered to help the rescue efforts after his services were requested by the Thai government and the British divers on the scene. He’s actually completed multiple cave-diving expeditions in Australia, New Zealand, and China, and has been a part of several natural disaster response teams in the Pacific region over the years. Harris soon swam into the cave to join the trapped soccer team and, once there, examined the boys to identify which were in the weakest health and should be evacuated first.
“He is brilliant with children,” said Sue Crowe, a close friend of Harris’ close friend. “He would have made sure that they were prepared from a cave-diving perspective. He would have been the perfect person to support them.”
According to a BBC report, people are already suggesting Harris be considered for Australian of the Year. And while the Australian government hasn’t confirmed that will happen, officials have said that his enormous contribution to the rescue will include some “formal recognition.”