SC native, Citadel grad helped in effort to rescue boys from Thai cave


The 18-day ordeal which ended Tuesday morning with all 12 boys and their soccer coach has a tie to the Lowcountry. 

U.S. Air Force Maj. Charles Hodges was stationed at the command center just outside the cave and is also the U.S. Mission Commander for the 353rd special operations unit.  

"Absolutely, we had that thought the whole entire time," Hodges said when asked whether he thought the mission might fail on CBS This Morning Wednesday. " We also understood though that we didn't have the option to not attempt this once it was confirmed with proof of life that the soccer players and their coach were back in chamber nine, we knew we had to affect some sort of a rescue." 

Hodges was a member of The Citadel class of 2000 and is a native of Blair, South Carolina which is a small town to the west of Newberry.

"It took every single one of us, putting our heads together and pushing aside any sort of of political or cultural differences and doing our best to find a solution to do this," Hodges said. "What I take away from this is how much can be accomplished from teamwork, because it was pretty impressive."

He was also a member of Alpha company and graduated with honors from the downtown Charleston school. 

The operation to extricate the entire group took three days and included a complicated effort from Thai Navy Seals to lead the boys back out. The group is now recovering at a hospital in the area.  He noted that the rescue couldn't have come at a better time because the pumps which were forcing water out of the cave had shut off for some reason. 

"Even though the odds seemed impossible," Hodges said. "What I've always been taught is to take risks and be bold when the situation calls for it and this situation absolutely did."

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