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The eldest Wise boys are two of the thousands of Americans who have died since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began. But they share a link that most do not: They were brothers. Jeremy, Ben and Beau played with soldiers long before they became soldiers themselves. Playtime was something of a battlefield rehearsal. When the G. Joes were idle, their toys morphed into land mines, waiting to be stepped on in the carpet at the family's home in southern Arkansas.

The three Wise boys and their sister, Heather, grew up in a small town called El Dorado. It wasn't a far drive from the country, where their father, Jean, taught the boys to hunt squirrels and deer when he wasn't treating patients as an ear, nose and throat doctor. The house was always full of something: the smell of mom's venison fried up with lemon pepper, the sound of the kids riffing on guitars or banging on drums.

Amid the chaos, though, was harmony. A friend once asked why they didn't have cable. Ben looked at him and said: 'We've got each other. At night, when Beau was tucked into bed, the big kids would have story time.

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Ben and Heather would sit with legs crossed and listen to Jeremy, who even as a teenager, saw himself as a protector: sword in hand, clad in armor, crossing bridges to battle monsters with glowing eyes and yellow breath. Courage: Navy Seal Jeremy Wise on the cover of a video of his memorial service and a newspaper obituary kept by his sister in Prescott, Arkansas. As they grew older, military dreams turned into career plans. Ben aired his by the time he was in Sunday school.

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Most of his classmates raised their hands when a teacher asked what they wanted to do when they grew up. Not Ben. He got up from his seat and drew a picture of a soldier on the board. Years later, in , he enlisted in the Army - and then told his mother. The last to join the military was Beau. Determined to keep her last son out of harm's way, his mother refused to cook for him for two weeks when he announced he was going to become a Marine. Pride: Beau Wise in his U. Marine Corps uniform - he lost two brothers in Afghanistan.

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Beau shipped off to Afghanistan for the first time in Ben had finished a deployment earlier that year and was preparing for another with his Special Forces unit in He thought he could spend more time with his family that way and still serve his country. When he was home in Virginia, he played ninjas with his stepson, Ethan, and hung around his wife, Dana, even if she was doing something as mundane as laundry.

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When he was working in Afghanistan, Jeremy called home often and made the adventure sound like a vacation. He talked about the food, the hotels - not the danger. The risk became real at the end of , when the Wise parents were celebrating the birth of Ben's baby boy in Washington state. His family met his remains in Dover, Delaware. It was a cold, gray day and the family waited inside a bus that felt like a funeral parlor, Heather recalled. Ben took Heather's hand in his and they whispered memories about their brother.

Ben and Beau headed back overseas not long after the funeral.


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The war started wearing on Ben, a medic who repaired the wounds that men inflict on each other. He worried about his younger brother serving in another part of Afghanistan. He waited for his own homecoming. During his final deployment, Ben would tell his sister stories about his son, Luke. Then he would cut himself off, unable to talk about the baby boy he couldn't hold in his arms. He prayed. He had faith that he would come home. So much faith that he turned down a friend's offer to ship him a care package in December, telling him that he would be packing up by the time it arrived.

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The next month, an insurgent shot Ben after he and his fellow soldiers saved a number of women and children in Afghanistan. A medic unto the end, he helped tend to his own wounds before he was flown to a hospital in Germany. Beau caught a flight and accompanied Ben's wife to the hospital, where she saw her husband for the last time. Ben fought to stay alive, even after doctors cut off his legs, even as his body failed, even as his organs started shutting down.

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He died on January 15, shortly before his parents arrived to say goodbye. Again, the family found themselves in the same chapel, the same veterans cemetery, to say goodbye. They moved Jeremy's grave so that the brothers could lie side by side in Suffolk, Virginia. Each brother's tombstone cites part of the Bible. Jeremy's points to a chapter that's often read at happier times: 1 Corinthians Part of it reads: 'When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.


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  • When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. The youngest, Beau, is planning to move closer to Ben's family. Later this year, his mother says, he'll transfer from his base in Hawaii to one on the mainland. He'll remain in the military, at least for now. While in Sicily, as a teenager, she was briefly engaged to a man from her village, Augustine Bagatelli. Later, she became engaged to Giuseppe Mangiacavallo , who jilted her at the altar.

    She moved to New York after she annulled her arranged first marriage to Guido Spirelli when she was She has no accent left to show that she grew up speaking the Sicilian language. Instead, she sports a thick Brooklyn accent with a fast speaking pace, which often contributed to the humor in her one-liners. Then she married Salvadore "Sal" Petrillo played by Sid Melton , although one episode she states she met him when she bargained with someone in a dark alley in Sicily, and another episode she says she won him in a contest in Sicily, when she stood on a rock so they were the same height and had 3 children with him: Dorothy Zbornak , a divorced substitute teacher; Phil Petrillo , an unseen character a cross-dressing welder with a wife named Angela Petrillo , and several children in a trailer park in Newark, New Jersey who later died during the series, and Gloria Harker played by Doris Belack and Dena Dietrich , who lived in California, and married into a wealthy family.

    However, she later lost the fortune that her husband had left her in an investment scam. In her older years, Sophia suffered a stroke the effects of which are said to be a partial explanation for Sophia's uncensored and brazen remarks and was subsequently placed in Shady Pines retirement home by Dorothy. After it was damaged in a fire, Sophia moved in with Dorothy. Sophia did not have many good things to say about "the home", alluding to poor treatment by the staff many times.

    Dorothy often threatened to send her back there when Sophia's behavior became out of control. While living in Miami, Sophia had many suitors, but did not date any for a substantial amount of time. She did remarry once more, though, to Max Weinstock Jack Gilford. Max was her late husband's long-time business partner, whom Sophia had long blamed for ruining the business, although it was later revealed Sal was responsible. Sophia and Max forgave each other after the latter reveals the truth, and the two quickly became close and got married. The newlyweds realize their romance would not work out, and they part ways as friends.

    However, both remained legally married, as divorce would have gone against her Catholic beliefs. Due to Sophia's Sicilian descent, there were regular hints in the series that she and her family have some mafia connections; she has made reference to several vendettas. It is even hinted that Sophia herself has done mob work; she once stated that no one in her family had "ever left a body to be found".

    Sophia also claimed to have been present at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre to which she then took back stating, "Oh yeah, I was at the movies that day. All day.