Navy SEAL from Napa County killed in Afghanistan

August 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Among the Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan this weekend was a young man who grew up in Napa County. That attack was the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the war in Afghanistan.

Darrik Benson was born and raised in Angwin, a small town in Napa County. He went to Pacific Union College Elementary and Pacific Union College Prep. Those who knew him were aware of how special his Navy SEAL training was. Of the 209 picked by the Navy to enroll, only 19 finished, and Benson was one of them. But he apparently was low-key about it all.

"He was not the kind of person who talked a lot about himself, and some people would have been, you know, really, wanted everybody to know. But he was not that type of person," said Duane Cronk of the Angwin Reporter.

Benson was one of the 22 Navy SEALs killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. Eight other American service members and eight Afghans also died in the crash. The U.S. military has finished the painful job of recovering what's left of the downed helicopter, but firefights in the Tanji Valley continued Sunday, as U.S. forces sought out Taliban fighters responsible for shooting down the Chinook.

"It is events like this, where their own brothers are shot down that really builds their resolve and they come back even stronger," said former U.S. military advisor Matt Sherman.

According to two U.S. officials, the Navy SEALs and other service members were sent to help Army Rangers who had come under fire. As is typically the case, it was a clandestine, dangerous mission. Cronk says the whole town of Angwin is now grieving over Benson's death.

"My reaction to this is one of deep sadness because this young man enjoyed a wonderful reputation in Angwin and his loss is felt by many, many people who knew him very well," said Cronk.

Many of the Navy SEALs who died in the crash were members of Team Six. It's unclear if Benson was a member of that elite team. Team Six, of course, is the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, although none of the men in this weekend's downed helicopter were part of that mission.


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