COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Only one time in the nearly 20-year-long war in Afghanistan has an active duty combat member been pulled due to family members killed in battle.
That Marine and his co-author of a new book focused on the loss of his two brothers in war.
“He was in Afghanistan and he was one of the CIA 7 that was killed by a suicide bomber there,” said Marine (Ret) and co-author Sgt. Beau Wise.
Navy Seal Jeremy Wise’s death is depicted in the film “Zero Dark Thirty.” It’s painful for Wise to talk about his two brothers killed in military combat, losses which drove him to a suicide attempt, but part of what saved Beau Wise was remembering the way Army Green Beret Ben Wise lived down to his last breaths.
“Holding him as he died, 8 to 10 rounds lodged in his torso, leg and groin, I just reminded myself Ben fought for six days when amputations were up to the hip, just kind of a reminder to myself if Ben can fight, I can fight,” Beau Wise said.
The journey of these brothers and their family is told in the new book, “Three Wise Men,” by Beau Wise and his co-author Tom Sileo.
“This is a historic story of sacrifice. Beau is the only U.S. service member who the sole survivor status was placed on as a result of the war in Afghanistan,” Sileo said.
Beau Wise said, “I had no intentions of leaving Marine Infantry anytime soon. We were planning to make a career out of it. It came as a shock and a punch to the gut,” Beau Wise said.
This elite sniper for the Marines was frustrated when he was pulled from combat. It was because of a military rule to protect survivors who have lost family members in battle, drawing comparisons to the World War II film “Saving Private Ryan.”
“One of the reasons I loathe the comparison [to the movie “Saving Private Ryan”] was because it [WWII] was a draft war. Jeremy, Ben ,and myself all three enlisted very enthusiastically. Ben rescued a woman and children from a cave network in the middle of a firefight, and that was the day he died,” explained Beau Wise.
Killed during a dangerous firefight with the Taliban on his fourth deployment nine years ago, Ben Wise started his army career in the infantry on Fort Benning. His brothers volunteered for the military after the September 11th attacks.
“Jeremy had been thinking about becoming a Navy Seal for many years, and then as Beau often says, 9/11 was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Sileo recalled.
He said the book honors those who have sacrificed in wars post 9/11, including many who died while preserving life like Jeremy Wise.
“That was the last thing on his [Jeremy’s] heart and mind, getting in between his guys and danger,” Beau Wise said.
“A Wise brother was in theater at virtually anytime over that decade long period,” Sileo added.
Experiences from their 1600 combined days of combat is part of the “Three Wise Men” book, but Sileo said so is the story of a God-fearing family from Arkansas. “It’s about love, family, brotherhood, faith.”
“There’s people of every faith in the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force. You can’t be unequally yoked, so surrounding yourself with those Christian people, doing things like Ben was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, having Bible studies, it’s absolutely fundamental,” said Beau Wise.
Overcoming depression, thanks to his faith and his family, especially his wife, Beau Wise and his co-author hope this book prompts people to listen to others’ stories.
“There are a lot of veterans out there, a lot of Gold Star family members out there that might need our help, that need to talk,” Sileo said.
Sileo was a producer and editor at WTVM about two decades ago. As for the subjects of this book, Ben Wise was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Jeremy Wise received the rare Intelligence Star.
To hear more from the pair who wrote “Three Wise Men,” go to wtvm.com/podcast. The full conversation is on the latest episode of the “Run The Race” podcast.