Local News

Wall of Heroes Honors Parents of Fort Bragg Students

Posted November 8, 2007 9:06 p.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2007 1:03 p.m. EST

— Students at one Fort Bragg elementary school on Thursday unveiled a mural honoring their heroes – their soldier parents who are serving overseas.

In the past year, 65 percent of the 353 students at McNair Elementary have had parents deployed overseas, principal Tim Howle said.

On May 14, 2007, Maj. Larry Bauguess, 36, became the first parent from the school to be killed in combat in at least the past two years. He died the day after Mother's Day while serving in Pakistan.

Two parents of other McNair students, Keli Lowman and Trina Jerome, wanted to find a way to reach out to Bauguess's daughters, Ryann, 7, and Ellie, 5, who attend McNair. They came up with the idea of a mural dedicated to Maj. Bauguess and ran the idea by his widow, Wesley.

"I very humbly accepted, and it's a great way to honor them," Wesley said.

Howle grabbed onto the idea and envisioned expanding it: He wanted to create a Wall of Heroes at the school and open it in time for Veterans' Day. The Wall, of course, would be dedicated to Bauguess.

"He represents the ultimate sacrifice that all the soldiers who have died made," Howle said. "That family is everything that a military family should be."

April Bell, a 24-year-old visual arts student at Fayetteville State University, spent two weeks painting the mural. Maj. Bauguess' picture is centered on an American flag, with the definition of a hero painted beneath it. Below are pictures of all the students' parents who are deployed overseas.

Ryann and Ellie pulled down the curtain, unveiling the mural to flashing cameras at a ceremony on Thursday. Wesley was all smiles, accepting the support of those around them, but Ryann cried, seeing the face of her father again.

"It was the least we could do for Wesley to show that no matter what, everybody in this building was behind her," Lowman said. "And if she was to stumble and fall, we're there."

Welsey said she hopes the Wall of Heroes helps children and adults honor the families of those who are serving.

"I think when the children walk by and the staff walk by every day, it will just remind them of what our troopers are doing over there," she said.