Darrik Benson planned to reenlist for four more years and then leave the military, and he hoped to become a flight instructor. He leaves behind a 2-year-old son.
It seems as if Darrik Benson, 28, had always wanted to be a Navy SEAL.
There was no real logic to it. His father was not a military man. His grandfather was, but he was a pilot, serving with the Army during World War II. Benson grew up inland in Angwin, a small community at the northern end of the Napa Valley.
He also hated the water.
His grandmother remembers seeing the boy standing beside her backyard pool when he was 4 years old. He just stared at the other kids, she said, unwilling to take a dip. “He didn’t want to get in over his belly button,” Claudia Benson said.
So she threw him in.
Pretty soon, he learned to swim. Then he got his plastic SEAL action figures, and it was all over.
Years later, after he had graduated from St. Helena High School in 2001 and joined the Navy, buddies asked Benson where he had learned to swim so well.
“My grandma taught me,” he said. It was their joke.
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