Four years on, never-before-seen video has emerged from Australian crews who brought home a life-changing story.
The footage was taken by a crack team of six Australian Federal Police divers, wading by torchlight.
It was a winter afternoon in Canberra when leading Senior Constable Kel Boers answered a call he would never forget.
“His question to me was simple — do you guys cave dive?” he said.
Boers replied: “Sure, why not?”
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Within 24 hours, the AFP specialist response group members found themselves part of the multinational mission.
The task was clear: first locate and then rescue the 12 Wild Boars.
They had only one thin rope to guide them.
Their photos show a makeshift camp set on the side of a muddy hill.
Stacks of vital oxygen tanks and production lines of crews carting gear can be seen.
The plan for a complex rescue was scrawled on a whiteboard.
“Once we got into the cave and we sat and waited for the first one to come through the nervous energy was terrible, you could have cut it like a knife,” Boers said.
The boys were carried out sedated, oxygenated, and strapped to a stretcher, after being hauled through tiny rock openings by specialist divers.
Then Boers and his team got involved.
“When the first boy came through and everything went smoothly and everything worked like clockwork, and we did medical checks and passed ’em on, it was sort of like — that worked,” he said.
It would take three full days before on July 10, 2018, the news the world had been waiting for came.
Boers, who recalled eating pizza and KFC with his team mates to keep them going, said the children didn’t realise how big their story had become.
“They all thought they had to ride their bikes home when we got them out,” he said.
The Australians ended up being among the final crew to get out of the cave.
All were honoured for the effort, with Boers awarded an Order of Australia and Bravery Medal.