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Thai soccer team returns to cave on anniversary to honor navy diver killed in rescue effort

The Thai soccer team who was trapped in a cave for 17 days last year returned to the site Monday to honor a former navy diver killed while trying to save them, Reuters reported.

The 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach performed Buddhist rituals to honor Sergeant Saman Kunan.

"I want to thank Sergeant Sam," Ekkapol Chantawong, assistant coach of the Wild Boars soccer team, told Reuters, as the group placed flowers before a portrait of the diver.

"Without him, I and the boys would not be standing here."

The boys, aged 11 to 16, were trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex last June by floods, and were rescued nearly two weeks later.

The effort to save them brought international attention and the help of elite military and divers from several countries.

Kunan died while delivering oxygen tanks to prepare for the rescue on July 5.

His wife, Waleeporn Kunan, told Reuters that the team always expressed their gratitude to her when they crossed paths in the district where they all live.

"Every time they see me, they would run over just like back then right after their rescue," she said.

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