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The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue



PHOTO: Former Thai Sports and Tourism Minister with Vernon Unsworth MBE
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The Isan Project has collaborated with the TAT on new marketing campaign featuring music commemorating the Tham Luang cave rescue.

The story of how 13 young men, members of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, were saved in the caves of Chiang Rai continues to ignites interest in the miraculous internationally-followed rescue in July 2018 from the flooded Tham Luang cave

To honour the safe rescue music video company The Isan Project recently launched “Where the Eagles Fly”, video to pay tribute to the British hero of the dramatic saga, Vern Unsworth MBE.

The release of a movie and Netflix mini series shortly will also boost interest globally in Thailand.  The series includes the first individual interviews with the boys and they coach.

The launch, in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and supported by the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit and Serenity Wines, was attended by several key persons involved in the rescue mission two years ago, including former Tourism & Sports Minister, Weerasak Kowsurat, who played a major role in flying in special cave divers from the UK as requested by Vernon Unsworth, a recognised cave explorer, who knows virtually every inch of the Tham Luang cave.

“It is absolutely true that without Vernon’s persistence in obtaining the help from the UK cave diving experts to initially spearhead the rescue mission, the boys and their coach would not be alive today.”

“Needless to say, assistance from experienced and skilled cave divers from around the world, who later volunteered to join as well as our own Navy Seals, all contributed to the mission’s ultimate success.”

Vernon Unsworth MBE, his partner Woranan Ratrawiphakkun, and his caving buddy Kamon Kunngamkwamdee, all starred in the “Where the Eagles Fly” fantasy music video, which was set in deep jungle and caves in the mountain of Doi Nang Non in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

“I’m truly honoured to have this song written about me. It was very moving to relive parts of the rescue while making the music video, especially when I think back on how Kamon and I covered over 16 km. on the first day after we knew the boys were missing. We virtually lived in the cave for the first 4 days prior to the arrival of my cave diving colleagues from the UK”.

The story of how the football team were saved in the caves is a heart warming one. For many attending the event it was a privilege and an honour to meet 63 year old Vernon Unsworth in person. An event filled with stories of bravery, emotion and moving music.

Vernon, who has mapped the cave system for 8 years, was the first professional cave diver at the site and realising the enormous danger the boys were in, played a significant rôle in the rescue and earned him the UK’s high honour, an MBE medal.

As the rescue became a race against time ahead of impending monsoon rains, Vernon undertook reconnaissance dives upstream through flooded passages against strong currents.

Weerasak Kowsurat, the former Minister of Tourism and Sports, recalled how a message written on a piece of paper by Vernon and handed to his colleague for safe keeping with instructions that it was to be handed over in case Vernon, fearing the worst, didn’t make it out on an exploratory dive. It was very dangerous work and one Thai diver died during the course of the rescue.

Although Vernon was safe, the message was handed to the Minister who was at the cave site. The message was to contact the British Dive Caving Association and gave names of expert divers and telephone numbers. Within 24 hours the Tourism Minister had managed to get the UK divers on a hastily arranged flight to Thailand to assist in the rescue effort.

The team of UK divers, working under appalling conditions and with time running out, in poor visibility located the team marooned on a ledge above the water about 4 kilometres inside the cave complex.

Writer and executive producer of The Isan Project, Will Robinson says… “Although I had penned and produced “Heroes of Thailand” honouring all those involved in the Tham Luang cave rescue, I felt it was time to pay a special tribute directly to the mastermind of the extremely complex mission.”

“Vernon is such a humble man, I wanted to create a song not only to honour him, but also to establish Tham Luang and what is now known as the ‘Wild Boar Cave’, where the boys were found, as a new tourist attraction for those who love to explore caves.”

At the beginning of the video it reads…

“On June 23, 2018, 12 boys from the Wild Boar football team went exploring the Tham Luang cave with their coach in Chiang Rai. They never returned home that night, next day locals contacted cave explorer Vern Unsworth in nearby Mae Fah Luang. Over the course of the next two weeks Vern put his life on the line for the young football team with a daring rescue engineered by Vern and Elite British cave divers. This song was written in honour of Vern Unsworth M.B.E. and inspired by the above events.”

You can watch the video HERE.

Commenting on the Isan Project Tanes Petsuwan, TAT’s Deputy Governor of Marketing Communications said, “TAT appreciates Will’s love of Thailand, and we are delighted to be supporting this launch. We also believe that this song combined with the newly-published children’s book, “All Thirteen” and the soon-to-be released Hollywood movie, “Thirteen Lives”, will help to dramatically boost tourism in and around Chiang Rai even though we will need to rely mainly on domestic tourists until the end of the year while international travel is still restricted.”

“Where the Eagles Fly”, co-written by Will Robinson and Daniel Ryan, and performed by Daniel himself, is tipped to top the charts when the MGM blockbuster movie, “Thirteen Lives” and the Netflix mini-series about the epic story of the Tham Luang cave rescue are released. The song is now available from all digital music stores including iTunes, Spotify, Apple and Amazon.

The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue | News by Thaiger

From left: Mr. Sobchai (Ford) Kraiyoonsen Singer/composer, Mr. Tanes Petsuwan TAT’s Deputy Governor of Marketing Communications, Senator Weerasak Kowsurat former Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr. Vern Unsworth British cave explorer, Mr. Will Robinson Writer and Executive Producer of The Isan Project, Mr. Nithee Seeprae TAT’s Executive Director of Advertising & PR Department, Ms. Woranan Ratrawiphakkun Vern’s partner, Mr. Sammy Carolus GM of the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit


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  1. Wijnschenk

    Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Thr world spent millions to rescue these children.
    NOW thailand can do something back!!!
    Help save!! Foreigners missing their family getting back into Thailand (no tourists).
    Thank you……

  2. AK

    Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Didn’t a second Thai Navy Seal diver die in hospital after almost a year of being in coma due to complications arising out of the rescue mission? Why is his name never mentioned?

  3. Toby Andrews

    Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    I totally agree.
    The Thais could not find the kids until the British arrived.
    Then other foreigners arrived and helped save these kids. The Thais had no idea. They could not have done it.
    Yet look how they treat the dirty ferangs now?
    Thais just take, take, and want more, and they are totally ungrateful for everything the west has given them.
    Even now their eyes are on profiting from the efforts of the foreigners.
    The TAT deputy governor of communication states: Thirteen lives will dramatically increase tourism in and around Chang Rai.
    Totally selfish, ungrateful, and lacking in any moral principles.

    • The Thaiger & The Nation

      Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 4:46 pm

      Get out on the wrong side of the bed today Toby?

      • Toby Andrews

        Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 5:01 pm

        Naw, I’m always a cantankerous git.


  4. Jason

    Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    I certainly hear and agree with the last comment. My fellow Australians aided in that rescue. I know the Thai Government is busy trying to salvage itself at the moment, but there is another “Rescue” that is just as heroic as the rescue of those boys. It is the repatriation to those who call Thailand home. These are the first who should return….and now!! The Thai Government is procrastinating enough on general tourism, so maybe they could manage to bring expats home??

    • The Thaiger & The Nation

      Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 5:30 pm

      Nice pivot. You made your point 🙂

  5. Wijnschenk

    Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    A DUTCH diver gave his life to save these children!!!
    Time to do something back?????
    Help stranded people (dutch).
    To get back to their loved ones.

    We spend .illions to help.
    Now retirn the favor….!!!

  6. Peter

    Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    My Thai partner and I are suffering due to selfish Thai government, they only look at rich, profit, rip off , no compassion

  7. Toby Andrews

    Monday, October 26, 2020 at 12:39 am

    Is this hero of this hero of the rescue still paying visa fees?
    I would bet he is.

  8. Matty

    Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    Nice one, Vern.

  9. Alan

    Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Caving, splunking, is a well known British pastime. I did it myself to a limited degree in England as a teenager. Even in England there’s some tough cave challenges. Some people don’t come back alive. So it’s not surprising the British have some expert cavers and rescuers. Very positive for international relations.

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