Linda Hansel was Darrik Benson's 8th grade teacher at Pacific Union College Elementary School in Angwin -- that was 14 years ago. Like many in this small community, she's saddened by his death.
"It comes as a terrible shock when you hear that somebody you know has met with an end. It's like a little piece of you goes missing," said Hansel.
Benson was killed early Saturday morning while responding to a call for help from another Special Forces group in Afghanistan. On board that chopper were 22 SEALs, seven Afghan commandos and other U.S. troops.
"I think it's time to pull out of there. I think it's a waste of money and a waste of time," said Angwin resident Marcel Jewell.
The navy has asked the Benson family not to give any interviews to the press. Some locals are honoring that request, but others say they want to take this opportunity to honor him.
"He was the kind of fellow who lived life in the moment. Enjoy it today," said Hansel.
Valerie Stewart's children went to school with Benson.
"Great kid, he always wanted to the best for everyone. He was a peacemaker and I know he's a peace right now," said Stewart.