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Wounded vet pops question at Bush family home — with ex-presidents watching

Tyler Jeffries knew he wanted to propose to his girlfriend, but he just hadn’t planned out how.

Luckily, he had some help from two former presidents.

Courtesy of Tyler Jeffries
Tyler Jeffries proposed to his girlfriend Lauren Lilly, with some help from the Bush family.

Jeffries, a retired Army specialist, was a guest Monday at the Bush family’s summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, along with other veterans featured in the book, “Unbreakable Bonds: The Mighty Moms and Wounded Warriors of Walter Reed.” Jeffries lost both of his legs in October 2012 after stepping on an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan.

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Former President George H.W. Bush, who wrote the book’s forward, and his family invited the veterans as part of a meet-and-greet event, Jeffries told TODAY.com.

"I ended up telling the whole group, President Bush and everybody else, that I planned on proposing later this evening, probably at dinner or something like that," he said. Jeffries, 26, had the ring in his pocket, but no concrete plans other than to pop the question to his girlfriend, Lauren Lilly, after he was done visiting the Bush family.

"So everybody looks at me at the same time and goes, 'Why is she not here?' They were all like, 'Why don’t you do it now? Why don't you do it here?' So I said okay, and called her and told her to come back."

Jeffries said he had just sent Lilly off to lunch with his son because the size of his group had become too big for the event.

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In a video of the proposal, Jeffries gets down on one knee with the help of a cane. He then presents Lilly, 24, with a jewelry box and proposes while both former presidents watch. Former first lady Barbara Bush stands behind her husband, who is sitting in his wheelchair. Former first lady Laura Bush, standing next to President George W. Bush, immediately starts clapping after Lilly says yes and bends down to give Jeffries a kiss.

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Jeffries said. "No one is ever going to be able to top that."

He said he also was thrilled to learn that the elder Bush tweeted his congratulations to the newly engaged couple right after the proposal.

"It's pretty amazing to have a former president know my and her names and wishing us the best," he said. "It's pretty cool to hear them speak your name like that."

Jeffries said the experience was amazing, but gave all the credit to the "whole Bush family."

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"They're just fantastic people, and they have nothing but love for the military," he said.

Jeffries said the couple have yet to decide any details of their wedding, but said he will oblige the wishes of the Bush family and make sure to include them on the guest list.

"I don’t think they’re going to come but we’re definitely going to send them an invitation, maybe so they’ll have something to hang on the fridge or something like that," he said.

Follow TODAY.com writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.

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