NINE Australian doctors and divers who played a pivotal role in rescuing 12 young boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand have been awarded for their heroic actions.
The group, which included Doctors Richard Harris and Craig Challen, were honoured at a special ceremony with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove at Government House in Canberra today.
“You made us so proud. Selflessly courageous. Superbly professionally competent, we could not have better ambassadors showing the best of our Australian values than you,” Prime Minister Turnbull said.
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“You saved those young men, as you did, so inspired not just your own nation, our nation, but holding its breath, and praying for your success, you inspired the whole world.”
The Australian anaesthetist and retired vet were both awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia as well as the Star of Courage, which is the second highest Australian Bravery award.
Royal Australian Navy officer Troy Eather and six Australian Federal Police officers were also honoured for their role in the rescue and were given Bravery Medals alongside the Medal of the Order of Australia on Tuesday afternoon.
— AFP (@AusFedPolice) July 24, 2018
Speaking to reporters following the ceremony, Dr Harris said he was “embarrassed and a bit shocked” about receiving the prestigious award.
“We went cave diving for a few days and we were able to help get the kids out, but honestly the media storm and these awards are completely unexpected,” Dr Harris said.
“We’re just trying to emphasise how big a part so many people played in this.
“We’re not quite sure why the spotlight has shone on us as a pair, but it is all quite exciting, but we just need to get back to work and stop my head swelling and start to relax.”
The Nine Australians honoured today include:
Richard Harris (Star of Courage, OAM)
Craig Challen (Star of Courage, OAM)
Benjamin Walter Cox (Bravery Medal, OAM)
Christopher John Markcrow (Bravery Medal, OAM)
Justin John Bateman (Bravery Medal, OAM)
Kelly Craig Boers (Bravery Medal, OAM)
Matthew Peter Fitzgerald (Bravery Medal, OAM)
Robert Michael James (Bravery Medal, OAM)
Troy Matthew Eather (Bravery Medal, OAM)