For someone who used to hate the water, Darrik Benson has come a long way, and achieved so much. It is disheartening to note that his life had to be cut short so soon, but one may be able to draw some relief from the thought that he died doing what he loved, in the service of his country.
Benson’s grandmother remembered 4-year-old Darrik simply staring at other kids having fun at his grandma’s backyard pool, because he did not want to get into water over his belly button. His grandmother’s response was to throw him in.
This may have been a good idea, because Benson eventually learned how to swim, a key skill required of anyone who wanted to become the person he wanted to become after he received plastic SEAL action figures: a Navy SEAL.
He finished high school in 2001, from St. Helena High School, and eventually joined the Navy. When asked by his buddies about where he learned how to swim so well, his reply was: “My grandma taught me.”
His grandmother was there when the little boy who was afraid of the water became one of 19 SEALs to successfully hurdle SEAL training.
Soon, Benson met his girlfriend Kara Nakamura in San Diego. The couple settled in Virginia, and has a son, Landon.
When Benson went back to Afghanistan last June, he carried one of his son’s toy airplanes with him. He was among those who were killed when a Chinook helicopter carrying 30 U.S. service members was shot down in Afghanistan; a plastic airplane was among the items recovered from the wreckage.
A funeral service for Darrik Benson has been scheduled for Monday, in Coronado.