Dr. Craig Challen Bio (Biography)
|Dr. Craig Challen is an Australian technical diver and cave explorer. On 24 July 2018, Craig Challen alongside his friend, Dr. Richard Harris, and other six Australian drivers involved in the Thai Rescue Mission were honoured with Prestigious Bravery Awards. He is also part of an informal group of cave divers known as the Wet Mules, as is Dr. Harris. He has explored Australia’s longest underwater cave, dived some of the country’s deepest wrecks and in 2009 was named Oztek’s Australasian Technical Diver of the Year. He is a veterinary surgeon by profession, Challen has made notable dives in Cocklebiddy Cave and Pearse Resurgence. In 2010 he made a record-setting 194-meter dive whilst caving in New Zealand. Challen was the co-founder of the Vet West franchise which he sold out in 2017 to retire.|
|Age||53 years old as of 2018|
|Wife||Heather Endall, Married for 20 years.|
|Occupation||Veterinary surgeon (Retired) and Technical Diver Cave Explorer|
|Celebrated for||His Contribution in the Thai Rescue Mission (12 boys and a Coach of a Football team, Wild Boars, trapped in a Cave in Northern Thailand).|
Dr. Craig Challen Involvement in Thai Rescue Mission
In 2018 Dr. Craig Challen was involved in a cave rescue operation in Thailand to evacuate 12 children and their assistant coach of the Wild Boars football team from the flooded Tham Luang Cave system in Northern Thailand.
He got the call to ask him if he would help rescue the trapped Thai soccer team he hesitated just long enough to pack a bag. Challen alongside his Adelaide diving partner Dr. Richard Harris was preparing for a trip to the Nullarbor Plain. Instead, the long-time dive friends flew to Thailand when the time needed them to become part of an extraordinary rescue that had the world on the edge of its seat.
Dr. Challen roles in the mission were de-kitting the boys of their diving equipment after they had made it through the first flooded section of the evacuation route, helped carry them through to the next section and prepared them for the next dive.
Dr. Challen alongside Dr. Harris worked 14-16 hours a day making trips to the cave on a daily basis as part of the three-day rescue effort to evacuate the boys and their assistant coach. Dr. Harris’ medical expertise as an anesthetist was invaluable for monitoring the boys and determining their fitness to make the trip while Mr. Challen was there for his technical expertise as a cave diver who has set depth records for diving.
The two only left only when the last of the boys had been evacuated each day and assisted in escorting the last of the boys out themselves.
Dr. Craig Challen Honoured with a Bravery Award
Craig Challen alongside his Adelaide diving partner Dr. Richard Harris were presented the second-highest Australian bravery decoration for “acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril”.
The list of all those honoured:
- Richard Harris (Star of Courage, OAM)
- Craig Challen (Star of Courage, OAM)
- Justin John Bateman (Bravery Medal, OAM)
- Kelly Craig Boers (Bravery Medal, OAM)
- Benjamin Walter Cox (Bravery Medal, OAM)
- Troy Matthew Eather (Bravery Medal, OAM)
- Matthew Peter Fitzgerald (Bravery Medal, OAM)
- Robert Michael James (Bravery Medal, OAM)
- Christopher John Markcrow (Bravery Medal, OAM)