Military Book Reviews

Three Wise Men

Three Wise Men: A Navy SEAL, a Green Beret, and How Their Marine Brother Become a War’s Sole Survivor by Beau Wise and Tom Sileo (St. Martin’s Griffin, 292 pages)

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, three brothers by blood became brothers in arms when each volunteered to defend their country. No military family has sacrificed more during the ensuing war, which has become the longest ever fought by America’s armed forces.

While serving in Afghanistan, US Navy SEAL veteran and CIA contractor Jeremy Wise was killed in an al Qaeda suicide bombing that devastated the US intelligence community. Less than three years later, US Army Green Beret sniper Ben Wise was fatally wounded after volunteering for a dangerous assignment during a firefight with the Taliban. Ben was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, while Jeremy received the Intelligence Star—one of the rarest awards bestowed by the U.S. government—and also a star on the CIA’s Memorial Wall.

United States Marine Corps combat veteran Beau Wise is the only known American service member to be pulled from the battlefield after losing two brothers in Afghanistan. Told in Beau’s voice, Three Wise Men is an American family’s historic true story of service and sacrifice.

Three Wise Men is a refreshingly candid account of what life and deployments were like for ground troops during the Global War on Terrorism. It captures the full spectrum of experiences from the monotonous to the harrowing. It also shines a light on a seldom discussed demographic of American citizens: the warrior class.

In the United States, military service is often a family business. It is consistently concentrated within the same communities. Military members often encourage their children to enlist and possibly other family members. This concentration results in an unequal balance among American communities defending the United States.

As the author comes from a military family, Three Wise Men is accurate at depicting the anxiety of having multiple siblings deployed at the same time. The book describes the fallout from having to live through a sibling’s injuries and death because of their service. Beau Wise and Tom Sileo perfectly capture the reverence for and inspiration from our warrior forebearers in a multitude of ways. There are feelings of apprehension as one sibling joins the fight before the others. There is a cocktail of pride, envy, and rivalry as one sibling experiences more or progresses further than the others. And there are feelings of listlessness and guilt that result from outliving another.

Three Wise Men is an honest peek into the true costs of military service in time of war as the families who make up the warrior class felt it. Beau Wise and Tom Sileo have created an approachable and relatable account of a family’s triumphs and pains during the Global War on Terrorism. We should require this book to be read by any decision-maker considering calling on the families who make up the warrior class to step into the breach once more.

Tristan Wimmer comes from a deep tradition of military service that stretches back to the American Civil War. As an infantryman and scout sniper team leader in 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, Tristan completed multiple deployments to Iraq, PACOM, and AFRICOM between 2004 and 2008. Additionally, he worked as a private military contractor in Afghanistan between 2011 and 2015. Currently, Tristan is a Senior Analyst for USAA Federal Savings Bank. He also holds dual MBA/MS degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. Tristan runs a small private equity firm focusing on real estate acquisitions and operations in midmarket city cores. He also hosts an annual event — 22 Jumps — that combines fundraising and BASE jumping to raise money for the development of traumatic brain injury research and testing.

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