When a Thai military unit finished disassembling a section of water pumps that proved to be so crucial in the successful operation, on Wednesday they climbed into their convertible vehicle near the Tham Luang caves, smiling triumphantly at the crowd of enthusiasts supporters who had stayed to give their heroes a proper farewell.
Now, with the mission completed and the children recovering in the hospital, the full story of the remarkable rescue can be told.
In the days after the disappearance of the boys, the rescuers had no idea where they were or if they were still alive. Expert divers from the Navy SEALs in Thailand, experienced in conventional diving situations, faced an unprecedented challenge.
Speaking to CNN on Wednesday, Thai Navy Commander SEAL Adm Arpakorn Yookongkaew remembers those initial challenges.
The rain and the sinuous caverns of an unknown cave were already a concern. In the first evaluation of the scene, "our hope of finding the children was lower," he said.