"Great work and we really appreciate it", a Thai military official said as he bestowed on the men the souvenir medals during a ceremony at Chiang Rai airport.
Divers who took part in the operation said the boys were heavily sedated to avoid anxiety as they went through the dark, narrow, underwater passageways.
Rescue mission chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told a news conference the boys were just being children when they got lost, and no one was to blame.
"Some of them were asleep, and some of them were wiggling their fingers, kind of groggy, but they were breathing".
When news arrived after nine days that all twelve boys and the coach had been found, his mother said: "Thank you to God".
The extraordinary operation to save the boys came to an end on Tuesday, when the Thai Navy SEAL rescuers and a doctor followed the last four boys and their coach out of the cave complex.
Prayut Chan-O-Cha, Junta leader shared on Tuesday (July 10) that the boys were given a "minor tranquiliser" to prevent them from any anxiety during the complex extraction bid, but he denied that they were completely knocked out.
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He's got a very bouncy Australian accent and they [the rescued boys] seemed to find that quite relaxing and reassuring.
The 127 present and former "Seals" - a nickname given to those attached to the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) - handled the risks and pressure at Tham Luang well, but they still needed to be guided by world-renowned cave divers who also joined the rescue operations. Two divers were helping each one make his way through very small passages filled with water.
Authorities have promised to provide the three of them with legal assistance through the nationality verification process, the report said. And the confidence of the diving team, and expertise specific to the cave, grew after its first successful mission Sunday. He said, "Don't need to worry about their physical health and even more so for their mental health".
The saga of the "Wild Boars" gripped the world, with the lives of the group hanging in the balance as the threat of heavy rain injected urgency to an already perilous extraction bid.
We are so happy to hear that our son is out of the cave and to welcome him home.
There were several options as to how to save the boys, including keeping them in the cave until the monsoon season was over.
Hospital director Chaiwetch Thanapaisal said all 13 rescued, including the boys' 25-year-old soccer coach, and four Thai Navy SEALs are "well".
That sign off quickly turned into a hashtag shared across social media, where luminaries of business, politics and sport extended their best wishes to the team and the rescuers.