Soldier portrayed in '12 Strong' has East Tennessee ties

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - An East Tennessee Special Forces soldier's story will be on the big screen this weekend.

Sergeant 1st Class William Bennett, known as Bill to his friends and family, was part of the first special forces team deployed to Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. Bennett lived in Seymour with his wife. 

"They picked 12 men to go in secretively," said Bennett's sister Sarah Hawkins. "Nobody knew, not even the families."

The movie '12 Strong' was released Friday. The film follows the 12 men as they work with an Afghan warlord to battle the Taliban. 

Sergeant 1st Class Bennett survived the mission, but won't be able to see it brought to the big screen. He was killed on September 12, 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

"We don't really know a lot. Just what we've heard. He was killed in Iraq. They had a raid or something," said Sarah. "He was due to come home the following Monday but he wanted to go with his team and he came home the day he was supposed to but he was in the hole."

Bennett's family says he joined the Army right after graduating high school. 

"He enjoyed adventure, I think," said his mother, Kathleen Bennett. "He was outgoing and liked doing things for people. He liked hiking and stuff and I think that's what got him into it."

Now, almost 14 years after his death, his family will get a glimpse into what he and the rest of team went through during this extremely dangerous mission. 

"That's what I was going to say, proud," said Bennett. 

"Very proud and honored that they are being recognized," said Hawkins. "Not just Bill, but the rest of them, the whole group."

You can catch '12 Strong' in theaters across the country beginning Friday. 

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