Good news travels fast.
A decorated military couple received a surprise via Skype Wednesday morning, when they called in to speak with Brecknock Hall Foundation panelists from over 1,000 miles away.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Kaitlin Daddona and Kyle Holmes, who serves in the Air Force Reserve, were announced as the winners of Peconic Landing’s 2019 Veterans Day Wedding Giveback, now in its ninth year. Mr. Holmes had traveled nearly two and a half hours from Florida, where he’s on active duty for about a month, to get to Alabama for what he was told was the second part of a rigorous interview process.
“We take our selection process very seriously,” Peconic Landing CEO Bob Syron told the couple. “As you know, this year we’ve interviewed some very strong candidates that have made this decision exceptionally difficult for our panel of judges, but …”
Capt. Daddona’s family then emerged from hiding, cheering and jumping, American flags and colorful balloons in hand. The couple could be seen on screen. Capt. Daddona’s beaming face instantly fell into her hands when she saw her family.
“Thank you so much,” she said. “I can’t believe this. We were thinking about everything you were going to say, and now I don’t know what to say.”
Mr. Holmes, 35, of Sunrise, Fla., and Capt. Daddona, 26, of Southold, met while on assignment in Hawaii. They were engaged last May while on different bases. Mr. Holmes was in Hawaii and Capt. Daddona in Alabama. The two are set to be married Nov. 10, the Sunday before Veterans Day.
“It is such an honor to be able to come home and get married to the love of my life in my favorite place in the world,” Capt. Daddona said. “The North Fork and Brecknock Hall possess such a beautiful magic that will be sure to bless our wedding day.”
According to a press release from Peconic Landing, Mr. Holmes proposed to his fiancé on the last night of a trip he and his daughter, Kylie, made while visiting.
He served seven years of active duty, while Capt. Daddona has served five. Both are continuing their service at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., where he is an air transportation specialist and she is an instructor and director of training at the Officer Training School.
Capt. Daddona was the 2015 Defense Information School Distinguished Graduate and the 2016 Company Grade Officer of the Quarter, and is this year’s Southold NJROTC Military Ball guest of honor. Mr. Holmes has received an Air Force Achievement Medal, a Meritorious Unit Award with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster and an Air Force Good Conduct Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, according to a press release.
Their volunteer service, which starts at home, has expanded as far as Honolulu. Capt. Daddona has volunteered locally in the North Fork as judge of Southold’s NJROTC Drill Competition and on base, with the Books on Bases book drive. They have additionally dedicated time to volunteering with the Honolulu Humane Society, as well as the Historic Houlka Homecoming.
They hope to carry out a 20-plus year career in the military, according to the press release.
“I was in absolute shock and filled with excitement,” said Mr. Holmes. “It’s such an honor to have been chosen and I am forever thankful to Peconic Landing and Brecknock Hall.”
Mr. Syron said the panel’s goal is to choose a couple that demonstrates great sense of community and a real dedication to serving this country.
“What the committee really loved about Kyle and Kaitlin was that they have such great love for the North Fork and a deep connection to our local community,” he said. “It was amazing seeing how truly shocked they were. The couple believed they were meeting with the committee for the next step in the selection process and you could tell they were nervous when we started the staged ‘interview.’ ”
The community project is made possible by funding and contributions from local businesses and volunteers. Last year those donations were valued at about $60,000.
Top photo caption: The couple was surprised Wednesday morning during a Skype call. (Courtesy photo)