HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Who doesn't love a good surprise? We were there for one at the Westin Huntsville at Bridge Street Town Centre. And, it was one to last a lifetime. After a quiet dinner at the hotel, Austin Clark and his girlfriend Irene Martorell Crespo took a stroll through the hotel courtyard. We were hiding behind a bush with our cameras so they wouldn't see us. As creepy as that sounds, there's a good reason. More on that in a moment. But first, how the two met.
He's from Huntsville. She's from Honduras. They both attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He’s a First Class senior. She’s a Second Class junior. When they first met, Austin couldn't resist teasing the underclassman a little. Later, he noticed the Honduran flag on her uniform. “Then I got nervous. I was like, she might not speak great English,” Austin told us. “She just thinks this guy is harassing her, so I apologized.” Irene later assured him she speaks English just fine.
The two had caught each other’s eye. They started going to community dances hoping the other would show up. "After the first one I was like she might be there," Austin said smiling. "So I was constantly trying to go and I found out later she was doing the same thing."
Love was in the air and it began to grow. “It wasn't until I got to spend more time with her, talk with her, hear her laugh, see her smile and really learn who she was as a person,” Austin said. Irene glanced at her boyfriend and said, “I just love everything about him.” The two started spending more time together. “I find him unique,” Irene said. “He’s like so special and the fact that he loves God.”
Last December, Austin went to Honduras to ask Irene's father for her hand in marriage. And he told his future wife that when he proposed, it would be to the song “Marry Me” by Jason Durello. So when they went for a walk Saturday night in the hotel courtyard, and the music started playing, a flash mob formed and Irene knew something was up. “I was like shaking. I heard the song and I was going to start singing along with it but then I`m like no, what’s going on?” she said. “And I was like oh, my gosh.” Austin got down on one knee to ask his girlfriend to be his wife. “And I’m like, oh God. And then I started crying, emotions just started coming out,” Irene said. And she said yes!
Austin will graduate in May as a Commissioned Officer and hopes to become a Coast Guard aviator. The couple can’t marry as cadets so the wedding will have to wait. “We for sure have another year and a half before she graduates,” Austin said. “So, plenty of time to plan.”
“It was a good surprise,” Irene added, but it wasn’t the last one of the night. When they returned to Austin’s family home in Huntsville, Irene’s parents were there to surprise her. Austin had them flown in from Honduras to be part of what was a big night for both of their families. Congratulations Irene and Austin!