Wesley Bauguess first met her blue-eyed, southern soldier, Larry Bauguess, in the Army ROTC Program at Appalachian State University. Larry’s strength in leadership, impeccable manners, dry sense of humor, and heart for Christ were just a few of the many qualities that captured Wesley’s heart. They fell in love during their ROTC days and on December 19, 1993, Wesley said, “I do,” to spending the rest of her life with this amazing man.
In the beginning of their marriage, Wesley and Larry served in the Army together as Lieutenants and then as Captains. One of Wesley’s favorite memories of her and Larry’s time together in the Army was a mid-tour leave trip they took to Australia during their one-year tour in the Republic of Korea. From snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and exploring a rainforest to tandem skydiving and even holding a koala, Wesley described it as “the best trip ever!”
About seven years after getting married, Wesley and Larry welcomed their first little girl, Ryann, into the world. Not long after, they welcomed their second, Ellie. And just like that, Wesley and Larry were parents to two beautiful little girls. If anyone was meant to be a dad, it was Larry Bauguess. Even with the added struggle of distance, he still found ways to show his love for Ryann and Ellie.
“He deployed with coloring books and a box of crayons,” Wesley recalled. “During his limited downtime, Larry would color pictures and mail them home to the girls. His buddies would laugh at him, at first, and then ask him for a page and some crayons so they could color, too. By the end of the deployment, the girls’ bedroom walls were covered with pictures their daddy colored in Iraq.”
In the early part of 2007, Major Larry Bauguess, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division, deployed with his unit to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On May 14, Larry and his Commander attended a peace meeting in a tribal region of Pakistan regarding the negotiation of peace along the unruly border. The time came to move back to the helicopter-landing zone, and instead of riding in the senior leader vehicles, Larry opted to stay behind with his men and boarded a pickup truck for the ride back.
He waited for his men to settle in before climbing into the back of the truck himself. Without warning, a uniformed Pakistani Frontier Guardsman opened fire at close range. Major Larry Bauguess stood on his feet, shielding his men and taking the brunt of the assault. He stood strong and selfless, giving his life to save the lives of his men.
The doorbell stopped Wesley in her tracks. Looking through the door’s peephole, she saw a man dressed in Army greens. Her head started spinning as she tried to convince herself that he wasn’t there for the reason she knew he was.
“I just talked to him yesterday. I just got that picture of him riding on a camel this morning,” Wesley told herself as she worked up the will to open the door. “Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It can’t be Larry. This isn’t happening.”
But it was, and it did. The love of her life, Ryann (6) and Ellie’s (4) hero, wasn’t coming home.
“It took them a very long time to process his loss,” Wesley said about Ryann and Ellie. “Honestly, I think we’re still processing how long forever is. You don’t ever get over losing your daddy. His absence is always noticeable…it’s always felt.”
Since Larry’s death, Wesley, Ryann, and Ellie have been driving on as Larry would expect them to. Her daughters are the light of her world. Wesley describes them as “bright and beautiful young women of God. They love Jesus. They are driven to be the best they can be in all things.”
As Wesley always says, “If we sat here, crumpled and defeated, Larry Bauguess would come down here and kick us square in the backside. He would say, “Get up…Drive on. Live your life. The best way to honor me is to get back out there and continue to live.”
And they do.
See more at Folds of Honor.