Air Force Tech Sgt. Kenny O'Brien, third from left, descends into Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand, ahead of dive operations on July 2, 2018. JESSICA TAIT/U.S. AIR FORCE
Air Force Tech Sgt. Kenny O'Brien, third from left, descends into Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand, ahead of dive operations on July 2, 2018. JESSICA TAIT/U.S. AIR FORCE

One year after Thai cave rescue, US airman recalls harrowing effort to save youth soccer team

by Matthew M. Burke
Stars and Stripes

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — When a call came last summer for volunteers to don scuba gear, to swim into Thailand’s flooded Tham Luang cave and to help rescue a youth soccer team trapped inside, Tech. Sgt. Kenny O’Brien stepped forward.

The dramatic rescue captivated audiences around the globe. All 12 boys and their coach were freed after being sedated and pulled 2½ miles through the floodwaters using ropes and pulleys.

O’Brien, 30, of Bunker Hill, Ind., a section chief with the 353rd Special Operations Group, 320th Special Tactics Squadron, at Okinawa’s Kadena Air Base, has been chosen as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2019. The Air Force-wide selection was announced July 23.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.593762

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