Creator of famed White Temple to build monument to former SEAL diver who died in cave rescue

Thailand’s national artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, known for creating Chiang Rai’s famed White Temple, will lead a large group of artists in building a statue of Sgt. Samarn Kunan, the retired SEAL member who tragically died while taking part in this week’s cave rescue.

Sgt. Samarn’s statue is part of a planned broader memorial for the historic rescue mission, which will consist of a large canvas painting as well as an exhibition of photos taken during the 18-day-long operation, Chalermchai said today.

The national artist, a Chiang Rai local, said he’s eyeing a government building near the cave to be the location of the memorial, which he describes as a piece of history that the province’s people will remember forever.

Chalermchai reportedly visited the site to support and comfort families frequently throughout the length of the seemingly “impossible” operation.

He said that he’s funding the project out of his own pocket, with hopes that the memorial will eventually become a popular tourist attraction.

The 38-year-old Sgt. Samarn died last Friday from a lack of oxygen, while he was working to place oxygen tanks along the escape route.

The cremation of his body with take place tomorrow at Wat Bang Nong Kin in his home province of Roi Et.

The White Temple (Photo: Facebook/ Wat Rong Khun)
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