When United States Marine Corps Drill Instructor Robert Surozenski answered a Skype call Tuesday, he thought it was for a follow-up interview with officials at Brecknock Hall, where he and his wife, Sara, were among six couples vying for a free wedding.
The real reason the 2007 Southold High School graduate received the call, however, was to be told he had won the contest.
“I just want to say from the bottom of my heart, me, having been brought up on the North Fork and being in the military; to have the opportunity to come back out there and spend the day with my family and marry the woman I love, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity,” he said from Japan, where he is currently serving his third tour.
Staff Sgt. Surozenski met his wife while he was stationed in San Diego and the two married in California — where she is from and where they reside — after Mr. Surozenski completed his Drill Instructor training. He had hoped to get married with his friends and family present “back home” on the North Fork, but due to his demanding schedule that wasn’t possible, until now.
The couple will renew their vows on Sunday Nov. 8, over Veteran’s Day weekend, in front of up to 80 people.
This is the fifth year Brecknock Hall at Peconic Landing has held its annual Veteran’s Day Wedding Giveback. The contest provides current or veteran service members and their significant other the opportunity to have a wedding on the North Fork, free of charge on Veteran’s Day.
A four-person panel consisting of three war veterans and a veteran’s wife judged the contest. They evaluated the contestants based on number of years served, special military honors and each couple’s personal love story.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to give them this opportunity,” said William Moller, one of the voting veterans. “He served on the ROTC at Southold High School and it is nice to see that he continued on that path.”
The news that the couple had won was actually delivered by Staff Sgt. Surozenski’s sister, Michelle Surozenski-Koke, who entered the room during the Skype call holding red, white and blue balloons. Brecknock Hall officials then called Ms. Surozenski to deliver the news.
“We can’t even believe it, I can’t even breathe,” she said. “I have no words. I am so thrilled and excited … I really appreciate the fact that my husband gets the opportunity to have the wedding of his dreams with his family. It is just so awesome.”