The American Air Force officer was standing with three other rescuers July 8 when they finally felt a quick strong tug on the line that ran from their gloved hands into the murky pool of water at their feet, a chain all the way through the flooded cave to the chamber where 12 young soccer players and their assistant coach had been trapped for 16 days.
The call “Fish on!” echoed off the stone, alerting rescuers up and down the passage that their treacherous mission was underway.
“That was the code word that somebody was coming up,” said the officer, who spoke to The Washington Post with permission from his superiors on the condition that he not be identified.
The first boy would emerge from the water in 10 minutes. “Everybody’s heart stopped,” he said.
It was the moment they had all been waiting for, but that no one had wanted. It meant no new exit would be discovered, or drilled, and that the members of the Wild Boars soccer team, who ranged in age from 11 to 16, and…