Nine Australians involved in the dangerous mission to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a Thai cave were honoured with medals for their heroism* today.
Dr Richard Harris and his dive buddy Dr Craig Challen, both 53, were presented with the Star of Courage — the second highest civilian bravery decoration* in the Australian honours system after the Cross of Valour — at a special reception* attended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Governor-General* Peter Cosgrove and Opposition Leader* Bill Shorten at Government House in Canberra.
Six Australian Federal Police officers and a navy diver were awarded a Bravery Medal.
The junior boys’ soccer team entered the cave on June 23, but flooding quickly blocked the exit and they had to retreat further inside the cave. Heavy rains raised water levels and they were found huddled on a dry patch of ground, safe but hungry, by two British divers on July 2.
Dr Harris and Dr Challen arrived at the cave on July 6 and reached the team the next day.
The citations* with their awards said: “The rescue mission was hazardous*, with poor or zero visibility*, debris* and constrictive* passageways, variable air quality, and made more difficult with further rainfalls predicted.”
Mr Turnbull asked that the rescuers be honoured for their bravery.
“It’s one of the most heroic and inspiring episodes of our time,” Mr Turnbull said when the rescue was complete.
The nine Australians honoured are:
Dr Richard ‘Harry’ Harris, anaesthetist and cave dive expert (South Australia)
Dr Harris has been honoured for his crucial* role in diving into the cave to assess whether the 12 boys and their coach were fit enough to make the dangerous journey to the surface.
Awarded: Star of Courage, Medal of the Order of Australia* (OAM)
Dr Craig Challen, retired vet and cave dive expert (Western Australia)
Dr Challen was stationed along the evacuation* route. He helped remove the boys’ diving equipment and strap them onto stretchers to be carried to the next section and then re-equipped them for the next dive.
Awarded: Star of Courage, Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)
Seven Australian divers were stationed along the cave and all helped move the boys along the route to safety. They were all awarded the Bravery Medal, Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Justin John Bateman, Senior Constable, Australian Federal Police Special Response Group (Australian Capital Territory)
Kelly Craig Boers, Leading Senior Constable, Australian Federal Police Special Response Group (Victoria)
Benjamin Walter Cox, Detective Leading Senior Constable, Australian Federal Police Special Response Group (Australian Capital Territory)
Troy Matthew Eather, Chief Petty Officer Royal Australian Navy, Specialist Liaison Officer for the Clearance Diving Team (New South Wales)
Matthew Peter Fitzgerald, First Constable, Australian Federal Police Special Response Group (Australian Capital Territory)
Robert Michael James, Acting Station Sergeant, Australian Federal Police Special Response Group (Australian Capital Territory)
Christopher John Markcrow, Detective Leading Senior Constable, Australian Federal Police Special Response Group (New South Wales)
- heroism: being a hero
- decoration: getting an award
- reception: ceremony
- Governor-General: the Queen’s representative in Australia
- Opposition Leader: the leader of the other main party, or team, in parliament that isn’t the Prime Minister’s party
- citations: the statement about the actions that led to the award
- hazardous: dangerous
- visibility: how well they could see
- debris: things in the way, such as rocks
- constrictive: hard to get past
- anaesthetist: specialist doctor who puts people to sleep while they have an operation
- crucial: vital, essential
- Order of Australia: the system of Australian awards by the Queen
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
- How many Australians were involved in the Thai cave rescue?
- Who is Australia’s Governor-General?
- Where was the ceremony?
- How many people were rescued from the cave?
- List three of the different jobs the rescuers do in their everyday life.
1. Word Cloud
A word cloud is a representation of words on a particular theme or topic in a shape. It stands out as the words are written in different shapes and sizes and all relate to the same theme. Look at the example of a word cloud on a Disney theme.
Create your own word cloud on the topic of Heroes in the Cave using the Australian Thai cave rescuers and their awards as your inspiration. Create a list of words to do with the event, the rescue and the Australian rescuers and turn these into a shaped word cloud. Try and choose a shape relevant to the topic and put your words into the shape in an artistic way.
Share your word cloud with your classmates.
2. Extension: Create a free-verse poem on the heroism displayed by these Australians.
Time: Allow 40 minutes
Curriculum Links: English, Personal & Social
With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.
Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.
HAVE YOUR SAY: If you met one of the cave rescuers, what would you like to ask them? What would you most like to know about the rescue and how they felt?
Explain your answer using full sentences.