Fallen 1st SFG Soldier honored at JBLM compound
May 29, 2012
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- If Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Wise had been on the 1st Special Forces Group compound at Joint Base Lewis-McChord May 25, he would have wondered what all the fuss was about. The unassuming Wise died from combat injuries sustained in Konduz Province, Afghanistan, in January.
The ceremony was for him.
During the commemoration, 1st SFG unveiled Wise's name etched on the group memorial wall, adding him to the ranks of more than 100 1st SFG Soldiers who have fallen in the line of duty. The modest Arkansan and father of three, along with all the rest of the Special Forces warriors remembered on that wall, were honored before the Memorial Day weekend.
Wise was a JBLM Soldier before he joined the ranks of the Green Berets. After deploying to Iraq with 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment in 2003, he returned to volunteer for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course and was selected to continue training as a medical sergeant.
Around this time, in a September 2004 interview with the Hope (Ark.) Star, then in his mid-20s, Wise said soldiering suited his pursuit of adventure, and like many post 9/11 recruits, a responsibility of duty to country.
"It's something I've wanted to do for a while now," he said. "I was in college and I took a break from college and thought I'd do it now while I was relatively young. I wanted to serve my country, and do something that I found exciting."
In remarks, Col. Brian Vines, 1st SFG deputy commander, spoke of a familiar memorial statement and the importance of carrying on the legacies of those who've gone before their time.
"All gave some -- some gave all," he said. "This simple statement is a testament of 237 years of our Army and our military. As they have gone before us -- before their time -- waging the wars our nation has called upon them to fight, they are not forgotten. Our brothers will live on in our memories and we will carry them."
Wise is one of three brothers, and the second to fall during of the War on Terrorism. In December 2009, older brother Jeremy, once a Navy SEAL team member, died defending of a CIA outpost in Afghanistan. As of January, the youngest Wise brother was a Hawaii-based Marine and was at Ben's side in Germany when he succumbed to his injuries.
After last week's somber, dignified ceremony, a fellow operator and friend remembered Wise as a Special Forces Soldier who was a husband, a father and a Christian first, with a love for being a Green Beret.
"He was a tremendous family man," he said. "He loved his wife, loved his kids and would do anything for them. He loved his church and loved Christ. He also was an amazing operator. He was very reliable -- you could always count on him to come through on missions, planning -- everything."
The operator also said that people who didn't know him might assume he was rigid due to his profession, but that wasn't the case.
"Ben had a great sense of humor," Wise's battle buddy said. "As a medic on the team, he was responsible for our physical health, but he took it upon himself to also be responsible for the mental health of everybody. He was great at inserting humor where it was needed, and could sense when someone was having a down day.
"He offered 'free hugs' to people, told pretty funny jokes and one liners. I could call him at any time of the day and I knew he'd be there to help me out."
Even in death, the operator said if Wise could have somehow seen the hundreds of troops, Families and others gathered on his behalf, the two-time Bronze Star Medal recipient would eternally live the Special Forces appellation of "quiet professional."
"He's such a humble man, it was very easy for him to deflect(recognition) to someone else." he said. "He'd say 'why are you guys doing all of this stuff for me? Go hang out with your families, go home for the weekend.' He'd never accept any type of recognition."