Back to Focus

JBLM's 1st Group Soldiers recall Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Wise's calm during firefight

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

A traditional Irish saying claims "The tree remains, but not the hand that planted it." Soldiers who live by the creed of De Oppresso Liber, or "to liberate the oppressed," know that truth all too well.

Soldiers from 1st Special Forces Group remembered one of their own Feb. 8 during a memorial for Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Wise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Wise died in Germany from injuries he suffered during clearing operations in Afghanistan, Jan. 9. It was his fourth deployment.

The Arkansas native, remembered as a "Special Forces medic without peer," was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions that day. According to the narrative that accompanied the medic's recognition of valor, Wise, with little concern for his own safety, not only provided care for a wounded Afghan commando during a firefight with insurgents, but brought extra attention to himself in his effort to lead innocent women and children to safety away from crossfire.

"He kept his composure the whole time," a fellow 1st SFG Soldier said of Wise and his actions on Jan. 9. "Ben was truly a man to emulate, not only at work, under the harshest of conditions, but also at home when he demonstrated the utmost love and compassion for his family. Ben was truly exceptional, even among our country's best Soldiers. He was our brother and a good friend."

Another Soldier who served with Wise as a part of 3rd Battalion, 1st SFG, said Wise was a Soldier he was proud to call a fellow operator because of his endless ability.

"I'll always remember our trip to (another deployment destination) together," he said. "Not only did Ben prove his superior medical knowledge while acting as a primary mentor and an instructor to (that country's) special forces, he held the top shooting score for the detachment while instructing (foreign) Soldiers in combat marksmanship and close-quarters combat."

Soldiers from 3rd Bn. have only recently returned home from Afghanistan as part of a scheduled redeployment. Colonel Brian Vines, deputy commander of 1st SFG, said the loss of Wise was the loss of a Soldier in "perfect balance."

"He was able to maintain a perfect balance between being a husband, a father, a brother, a Special Forces Soldier and a Christian," he said. "Ben's positive attitude inspired those around him."

Vines said it was those actions that, according to Wise's family and fellow troops, weren't surprising.

"I was particularly inspired by the comments of his sister Heather," he said. "She eloquently revealed Ben's sensitive and compassionate side, while his teammates shared stories of his toughness and his courage." He also said Wise's dedication to selfless service shined "in support of those he enjoyed serving with."

Wise is buried in Virginia, next to his brother Jeremy who served as a Navy SEAL team member from 2004 to 2009. Jeremy died from injuries sustained while protecting a CIA outpost as a civilian security contractor in Afghanistan at the end of 2009. The remaining Wise brother serves today in the Marine Corps.

The hand may be gone, but the tree remains.

"He knew what it meant to put everyone else first," another 1st SFG Soldier said of him. "His quiet demeanor concealed his razor-sharp focus on the accomplishment of the mission, as well as his intense concern for the well being of his teammates. He always chose to do the right thing, simply because it was the right thing."

comments powered by Disqus