Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cadet's perseverance becomes wedding proposal

Alexandrea Denis was a debutante in white when Tye Reedy, then a West Point cadet, served as an escort at the annual ball. He set his heart on marrying the University of South Florida journalism student. And the couple were married this month — as he prepares to leave for his second tour of duty in Iraq in a few weeks.

Courtesy of Phillip Lloyd Photography

Alexandrea Denis was a debutante in white when Tye Reedy, then a West Point cadet, served as an escort at the annual ball. He set his heart on marrying the University of South Florida journalism student. And the couple were married this month — as he prepares to leave for his second tour of duty in Iraq in a few weeks.

By sheer coincidence, Alexandrea Denis wore a white wedding gown the night she met Tye Reedy. • She was a debutante waltzing in a swirl of chiffon. • He was a West Point cadet, recruited to escort the young women making their debuts to the Krewe of Venus at Thanksgiving 2004. • "Soon as she smiled at me, I knew,'' Reedy said, as certain then as now. • Anyone who knows Capt. Reedy knows he's no quitter. He's the Pasco High guy who dislocated his left shoulder in the state wrestling championship finals. He rolled it back in and won the title with one good arm. • "I don't want a lot of things, but when I know what I want, I get it," he said. • The next time she danced in a white wedding gown, Alexandrea was his wife.

• • •

At the debutante ball, Reedy's first move was to "borrow" the seating chart and re-assign himself to Denis' table. She sat between him and her boyfriend, not at all what Reedy had pictured. So he charmed her mother, Mary Giles, who encouraged him and Denis to exchange e-mail addresses.

Back at the military academy, a thank-you message from Denis for being her escort launched their friendship. The two made plans for lunch and a movie when he came home for the holidays.

"Just as friends,'' Denis said, then a telecommunications major at the University of South Florida. Lunch lasted hours, and they never made it to the movies. The next day, Reedy bought a ticket to Busch Gardens where Denis was performing for the first time in a children's show.

"I watched all six shows,'' he said, laughing at what people must have thought about that grown-up who spent the day in the Land of the Dragons.

Their budding relationship got him "through the gloom periods" at West Point, he said, and to graduation in May 2005. Denis wore a big pink hat so he could find her in the stands.

"I never thought I'd be thinking about marriage at 21," said Denis. "My goal was to work as much as I could to become a journalist. Then I spent every spare second traveling so we could see each other," said the four-time Gaither High class president.

Reedy continued ranger school in Fort Benning, Ga., and other Army training. Denis interned at WFTS-Ch. 28, writing and working on the assignment desk. When he deployed to Iraq in November 2006, leading an airborne reconnaissance scout platoon out of the 82nd Airborne, she added checking the military news to her job.

Long nights in the Diyala River Valley, one of the most violent areas in Iraq, gave Reedy time to dream up a proposal. A bit of a prankster, the son of Pasco High principal Patrick Reedy once stole the No. 1 keys off every computer in the school, in honor of the class of 2001.

He wrote to Denis' co-workers to set up the ploy during his mid-tour leave in June 2007. Could they contact him for a story about the effects of deployment on couples? Could he pop the question as he answered their questions?

The editors smelled a good story, even sending a camera crew to a jewelry store for footage of him picking out a ring. And when unsuspecting Denis brought him to the studio, everyone pretended to be meeting Reedy for the first time.

A reporter's code words — "I have one final question" — were Reedy's cue to get down on one knee. As the camera rolled, he asked Denis to marry him.

Their families, hidden in the green room, cheered. The story aired several times over the Fourth of July.

Two weeks later, Reedy returned to Baghdad to complete his 15-month tour. Denis graduated magna cum laude from USF in December 2007. Since March 2008, she has been a reporter at an NBC affiliate in Panama City.

Wedding planning continued long distance as Reedy was deployed to Iraq for the second time last December. A DVD he sent of himself in his barracks was a bridal shower hit.

Reedy, 26, and Denis, 23, had not seen each other for six months when they wed June 20 at Christ the King Catholic Church in South Tampa. Officiating was Father Ed Lamp, the chaplain at James A. Haley VA Medical Center where Denis and her mother attend Mass. Coincidentally, he had also baptized Reedy as an infant in Dade City.

The debutante and cadet danced to Etta James' At Last during the reception at the Academy of the Holy Names, and left on a Caribbean cruise the next day.

Reedy returns to Iraq on July 7 and expects to finish his tour in November. Capt. and Mrs. Reedy will make their first home together in Fort Knox, Ky., where he will attend the Maneuver Captains Career Course.

The newlyweds will treasure every day, as the groom is scheduled to leave for Afghanistan a few months later for his third year-long deployment in five years.

Amy Scherzer can be reached at or (813) 226-3332.

Cadet's perseverance becomes wedding proposal 06/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 27, 2009 9:41am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Steve Kornell says small fix can help St. Pete's sewage problems


    ST. PETERSBURG— Steve Kornell knows his idea won't put much of a dent in the $326 million bill the city must pay over the next five years to fix its inadequate and outdated sewer system.

    St. Petersburg City Council member Steve Kornell (right) during a 2012 council meeting at City Hall. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  2. FWC reminds you to mind mating manatees in Tampa Bay


    Female manatees know what it's like to be sought after — maybe too much so.

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding Floridians to be mindful of manatees while they're mating. Interfering in their mating practice could be considered harassment, according to FWC. (FWC)
  3. Celebrity chef/priest comes to town to cook with bishop

    Human Interest

    BRANDON — Gluttony may be one of the seven deadly sins, but Father Leo Patalinghug believes food can break barriers and bring people together.

    And it works.

    Father Leo Patalinghug and Bishop Gregory Parkes of the Diocese of St. Petersburg chat before taping Savoring Our Faith at the Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in Brandon on Aug. 16.
  4. Can the Bad Boys Mowers Gasparilla Bowl thrive in competitive sports market?


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's a funky name: the Bad Boys Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. But the new sponsors for the former St. Petersburg Bowl might need more than an eye-catching name to create a thriving, profitable contest.

    NC State head coach Dave Doeren clutches the championship trophy after winning the Bitcoin Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg in 2014. Bowl organizers are changing the name of the game to the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

  5. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues


    Four days before their preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns, which had 12 players not stand for the national anthem prior to their last game, the Bucs used their team meeting to discuss social issues that might have led to that demonstration, coach Dirk Koetter said.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]