The 12 Thai boys have only just learned of the tragedy that unfolded during the rescue.

In the days since 12 boys and their soccer coach were freed from the depths of a Thai cave, the world has been remembering Saman Kunan, the former Thai Navy SEAL who died during the daring rescue mission.

But only now are the boys able to join in that mourning.

Previously shielded from the tragedy while they recover in hospital, the group were reportedly told of Kunan’s death over the weekend.

Photographs released by the nation’s Ministry of Public Health show the team, aged between 11 and 16, hanging their heads and wiping away tears as they gaze upon a drawing of the 37-year-old airport security officer.

The group also appear to have written messages on the drawing.

Images: Thai Ministry of Public Health.

Saman died on July 6 while on a mission to deliver three oxygen tanks to the trapped team. According to local authorities, he lost consciousness on his return journey due to lack of oxygen. His diving partner attempted to revive him, but to no avail.

The highly experienced diver had volunteered to join the mission on July 1, the day before the 'Wild Boars' team were discovered alive inside the Tham Luang cave. The group had ventured into the complex on June 23, but became trapped when monsoonal rain flooded the narrow passageways.

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In a video shared to social media as he boarded a plane to Chiang Rai ahead of the rescue, Saman said, "See you this evening. We will bring the kids home."

Thanks to his efforts, and those of more dozens of divers from around the world, his pledge was fulfilled. After a three-day effort, the last of the 12 boys and their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, were guided safely along the treacherous 4km passage back to the cave's entrance.

Image: Thai Ministry of Public Health.

Saman was farewelled at Wat Ban Nong Khu in Roi Et province on Saturday by a large crowd of mourners, according to The Bangkok Post.

The following day, the Thai King issued a Royal decree that posthumously promoted Saman to lieutenant commander and honoured him with the royal decoration of Knight Grand Cross (first class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant.

Saman's widow, Valeepoan Kunan, posted to social media last week expressing her love for her late husband.

“I miss you," she wrote alongside a black-and-white image of Kunan.

"I love you like you are my very heart … from now on when I wake up … who will I kiss?”

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