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Saman Kunan

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Saman Kunan
File:Saman Kunan.jpgSaman Kunan.jpg Saman Kunan.jpg
Native nameสมาน กุนัน
Born(1980-12-23)December 23, 1980
Chaturaphak Phiman, Roi Et, Thailand
💀DiedJuly 6, 2018(2018-07-06) (aged 37)
Chiang Rai, ThailandJuly 6, 2018(2018-07-06) (aged 37)
💼 Occupation
Military diver, airport security guard
Honours - Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Order of the White Elephant[1]
🥚 TwitterTwitter=
label65 = 👍 Facebook

Saman Kunan (Thai: สมาน กุนัน; December 23, 1980 – July 6, 2018)[2] was a Thai Navy SEAL. After leaving the Navy, he worked as a security guard. He died during the Tham Luang cave rescue.

Personal life[edit]

Saman Kunan was born on December 23, 1980 in Chaturaphak Phiman. He is the son of Vichai and Samran Kunan. He attended the Naval Academy School and joined the Underwater Demolition Assault Unit, also known as the Thai Navy SEALs. Saman resigned from the unit in 2006 to work for Airports of Thailand PCL as a security guard at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.[3][4] He was married to Valeepoan Kunan.[5] An athletic person, Saman was also an experienced triathlete, and a member of Nich-100Plus, a well known Thai cycling team.[6][7] He also practiced kayaking[8] and hiking.[9]

Cave rescue and death[edit]

In June and July 2018, Saman was a volunteer diver in the Tham Luang cave rescue, an international rescue operation to extract 12 boys and their football coach trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non, a large cave system beneath the Doi Nang Non mountain. On the evening of 5 July, Saman and a diving partner entered the cave to place oxygen tanks along a planned exit route.[10] On his way back, Saman ran out of air himself. His diving partner pulled him out of the water and performed CPR on Saman, but he did not regain consciousness. Saman was pronounced dead on 6 July, around 01:00 local time.[11] Later that day, his body was moved out of the cave, brought to the Mae Fah Luang - Chiang Rai Airport and flown to the U-Tapao Airport near Bangkok to receive the royal bath[clarification needed][citation needed].


On 7 July at 11:30, a funeral ceremony was held at the Roi Et Airport. A petty officer first class upon leaving the Navy, King Vajiralongkorn posthumously promoted Saman to lieutenant commander, an unprecedented rise of seven ranks.[1] He was also awarded the Knight Grand Cross (first class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant.[1]

On 14 July, Saman received a royal-sponsored cremation at the Wat Ban Nong Khu in the Roi Et province. The ceremony was attended by thousands of people.[12]


Chalermchai Kositpipat, a Thai artist who, among other things, created the Wat Rong Khun art exhibit, has proposed the idea of creating a statue of Saman Kunan, to be "twice life-size". Kositpipat is seeking permission to build a memorial site in the vicinity of Tham Luang, which he and local officials hope will be turned into a vibrant tourist accommodation.[13][14] Kositpipat announced that he will work with over 300 fellow artists from Chiang Rai to create paintings and photographs for a multipurpose pavilion.[13] The entire project will be privately financed.[citation needed]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Online Reporters" (14 July 2018). "Ex-Seal Saman posthumously promoted". Bangkok Post.
  2. "ร.10พระราชทานน้ำหลวงอาบศพ'จ่าเอกสมาน กุนัน'". (in ไทย). Retrieved 2018-07-21.
  3. Busby, Mattha (6 July 2018). "Thai navy Seals pay tribute to diver who died in cave rescue". The Guardian.
  4. "'We won't let his life be in vain': Tributes pour in for Thai diver who died trying to save boys in cave". Channel NewsAsia. 6 July 2018.
  5. Lefevre, Amy Sawitta (12 July 2018). "Wife of Saman Kunan, the Navy SEAL who died in the Thai cave rescue, asks 'who will I kiss now?'".
  6. Petkar, Sofia (11 July 2018). "Who was Thai cave rescue diver Saman Kunan and how did the Navy SEAL die while trying to rescue the trapped boys?". The Sun.
  7. "The world is remembering the Thai Navy SEAL who gave his life in the service of others". NTD News. 11 July 2018.
  8. "เปิดประวัติ 'จ่าแซม'ผู้สละชีพเพื่อภารกิจถ้ำหลวง". TNN (in ไทย).
  9. Kwong, Jessica (8 July 2018). "Who was Saman Kunan? Thai cave rescue diver died trying to save soccer team". Newsweek.
  10. "Retired SEAL member dies in Tham Luang rescue operation". Thai BPS. 6 July 2018.
  11. Cochrane, Liam; Vimonsuknopparat, Supattra (7 July 2018). "Thai cave rescue: Former Navy SEAL working to rescue boys dies from lack of oxygen". ABC News.
  12. "Royally sponsored cremation held for cave hero Saman". The Nation. 14 July 2018.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Khamthita, Theerawat (13 Jul 2018). "National aritst to build statue of ex-Navy seal". Bangkok Post.
  14. Fernando, Gavin (11 July 2018). "Thai cave could be turned into a tourist attraction and Hollywood film".

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