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3 heroic brothers all served their country — but only 1 survived

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The three Wise brothers grew up in Arkansas, steeped in the stories of the military heroics of their ancestors.

Every night, their mom regaled them with tales of their grandfather, who had served in World War II, as did a lucky great-uncle, who survived being shot in the back of the head when the bullet ricocheted off the inside of his helmet while fighting the Japanese at Saipan.  

As adults, the brothers — Jeremy, Ben and Beau — would all toss aside other career paths to enlist themselves.

Soon, however, two of them would be dead, killed tragically on a battlefield half a world away.

The tale of the three brothers — their life, their service and, for one, his survival — is told in “Three Wise Men: A Navy SEAL, a Green Beret, and How Their Marine Brother Became a War’s Sole Survivor” (St. Martin’s Press) by Beau Wise and Tom Sileo, out January 12.

Beau Wise said that he’s always kept a journal, finding it therapeutic to write down his thoughts.

He realized that writing a book might help others.

Beau Wise visits his brothers on June 23, 2019.
Beau Wise visits the graves of his late brothers Jeremy and Ben, who are laid to rest side by side at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk, Virginia.
Tom Sileo

“We wanted Jeremy and Ben honored, and we wanted a book for Gold Star family members and people dealing with post-traumatic stress,” Beau told The Post.

Despite the brothers’ love of military history, a career in the armed forces was hardly preordained. Their father was a doctor and hoped at least one of the boys would follow in his footsteps.

Jeremy, the oldest, even went to medical school, despite a short stint at West Point after graduating from high school. He dropped out, and moved back to Arkansas to attend a local college with Ben, the middle brother.

In 2000, Ben decided to enlist, in hopes of becoming a Ranger. Jeremy disapproved, insisting Ben had no idea what he was getting into.

Meanwhile, Beau — the youngest — was struggling.

“Between seventh and ninth grades, I had gone from As and Bs to Cs and Ds,” he writes. “I was running with the wrong crowd, partying too much, and even smoking the occasional joint.” College wasn’t where Beau wanted to be. He began contemplating another path.

Jeremy while on a U.S. Navy SEAL Team 4 deployment to Iraq.
Jeremy Wise while on a U.S. Navy SEAL Team 4 deployment to Iraq.
Courtesy of the Wise family

Jeremy was also finding his way. He had failed several classes in his first year at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and by his second, it was becoming clear “his heart wasn’t set on following in our dad’s footsteps and becoming a doctor.”

Jeremy had secretly always wanted to become a Navy SEAL. And at the age of 28 — the cutoff for entering training — he knew he had to make a decision quickly.

Every morning, “the first thing he heard was a ticking clock,” said Beau.

And then September 11, 2001 happened. Beau watched the Twin Towers collapse on a screen in his high school. “Even though I wanted to quit high school, pick up a weapon, and go to war, the effect 9/11 had on a kid like me paled in comparison to my oldest brother, who was already straddling the imaginary fence between medical school and the military before America was attacked,” he writes.

Jeremy decided to go to SEAL training. Why SEALs, Beau asked? Why not become a military doctor?

“Because I want to kick down doors, blow s - - t up, and shoot people in the face,” his brother told him. “Those people trapped in the World Trade Center couldn’t fight back. I can.”

He’d soon get his chance, as would Ben.

Ben was sent to Iraq, where he patrolled the dangerous streets in an armored vehicle.

“Dear Jerms,” Ben wrote to his older brother in January 2004. “I smell like a bag of dead cats, but apart from that, things are good.”

In early 2005, Jeremy arrived in Baghdad, Iraq, as a member of SEAL Team 4. At the same time, Ben returned stateside to train to become a Green Beret, a member of the US Army’s Special Forces. (He would graduate in 2008.)

Ben while deployed to Afghanistan with U.S. Army ODA 1316.
Ben Wise while deployed to Afghanistan with U.S. Army ODA 1316.
Courtesy of the Wise family

Meanwhile, Beau had enrolled at Southern Arkansas University where he was studying percussion. He and his brothers loved music growing up — Van Halen, AC/DC — and Beau was pushed by his family to pursue that path.

Like his older brothers before him, however, he soon found his heart wasn’t in it. He joined the Marines instead.

“Ben more than any of us got the inspiration from previous generations,” Beau says. “I got my inspiration from Jeremy. I’m not really sure what the real root of it is. Shooting guns and blowing stuff up always looks exciting.”

Beau’s mother was so upset by his decision that she didn’t speak to him for two weeks.

Just like his brothers had been, Beau was shipped to Iraq in 2009. Between the three of them, they had had five deployments between 2003 and 2009.

After his final tour, Jeremy retired from the SEALs. His next job would, unfortunately, be his last.

He signed up with military contractor Xe Services (formerly Blackwater), where — unbeknownst to his family — he was doing top-secret work for the CIA.

The last words Beau would ever speak to his brother came in a scratchy satellite phone call in late December 2009.

“When will you be home?” Beau asked Jeremy.

Beau giving a route briefing to fellow Marines while training for our Afghanistan deployment at Twentynine Palms, California, in March 2011.
Beau Wise briefing fellow Marines at Twentynine Palms, California, in March 2011, before his Afghanistan deployment.
Isaiah Castro

“Sooner than you think,” the older brother replied, before the satellite connection was lost.

A few days later, while deployed in Afghanistan, Beau was visited by the battalion chaplain.

“There’s never a good way to go about this, so we’ll just get right to it,” the chaplain told him. “It’s my unfortunate duty to inform you that your brother has been killed near Khost. There was some kind of explosion.”

Beau wept and punched a hole through the plywood of the chaplain’s desk.

Jeremy had been killed by a supposed high-value informant who had exploded a suicide vest after being allowed onto an American base. (The incident was depicted in 2012’s “Zero Dark Thirty.”)

Beau flew home, and as his brother’s and other service members’ coffins were unloaded from a plane, a member of another grieving family motioned him over before whispering in his ear, “Kill them all. Go over there and kill all those motherf - - kers.”

Beau would return to Afghanistan, joining Ben, who had become an elite sniper.

Even before Jeremy was killed, the brothers were well aware of the danger they faced.
“Being 10 years younger, they sheltered me from things, but as time went along, they started exposing it to me,” Beau said. “I think it was Ben who said, ‘Beau, this is not a video game. Forget that Marine Corps invincibility bulls - - t.”

On January 9, 2012, a second brother was fatally injured. While fighting Taliban in the hills of northern Afghanistan, Ben was shot numerous times in his legs.

He was airlifted to Germany for medical treatment, where both legs were ultimately amputated. When his family arrived to visit, they could not recognize him. He was bloated “beyond imagination.”

Luke looks at a portrait of his dad after Ben’s passing.
The late Ben Wise’s son, Luke, admires a portrait of his father.
Courtesy of the Wise family

“Seeing the person we were told was Ben was the worst moment of my life,” Beau writes. On January 15, Ben succumbed to his wounds.

While Beau was aching to get back to active duty, he was soon informed he was being pulled out because of a military rule that aims to protect survivors who have lost family members.

Beau was angry. “I didn’t need anyone to ‘take care of’ me,” he writes. “I needed . . . to keep the memory of my two fallen brothers alive by following in their footsteps on the battlefield.”

By 2015, Beau — back in the States — had fallen into alcoholism and depression.

One night, after polishing off a bottle of whiskey, he picked up his pistol and put it to his head.

Just then, he heard the voices of his brothers. “It’s time to grow up,” they said in unison.

The Wise family on the day their daughter’s adoption was finalized in Bowie County, Texas, on November 18, 2019.
Beau Wise says his wife Amber and their two kids are his “therapy.”
Courtesy of the Wise family

Beau went and woke his wife. He handed her the gun. “Hide this,” he said. “Don’t give it back to me until you think it’s safe for me to have a gun again.”

He is forever grateful for that moment of clarity. “Jeremy and Ben Wise saved a lot of lives during their eight combined combat deployments,” Beau writes. “The last life they saved was mine.”

Both brothers are buried side by side in a Virginia veterans’ cemetery.

Beau left active-duty military in 2016, and he now lives with his wife and two children — a son, 3, and a daughter, 2 — in Oklahoma. He and the family own a liquor store.

“I am doing much, much, much better now,” he said. “My family is my therapy. My toddlers are my therapy.”

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