Brad Paisley Honors ‘Flat Daddies’ of Soldiers Stationed in Afghanistan
Brad Paisley has a long history of honoring the troops stationed all over the world. During a concert on Sunday night (June 15) in Bangor, Maine, the singer showed his support for two soldiers currently stationed in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Ryan Kelly and Sgt. Dana Gross were at Paisley's show, in life-size cut-out form -- known as 'flat daddies' -- via Kelly's wife, Amanda, and Gross' girlfriend, Erin Donnell. The women have been taking the cut-outs everywhere, including to Paisley's concert, where the singer unexpectedly pulled both of the cut-outs on stage.
“It got to me when I saw these cardboard cutouts," Paisley tells the Bangor Daily News. "It’s just such a reminder of the sacrifices that [these families] make."
The men have been stationed overseas for about a year -- a sobering fact for the West Virginia native.
"That’s incredible," he notes. "They’re not on tour playing sold-out shows; these guys are in harm’s way for a year."
The women say they were incredibly touched by Paisley, who also signed the men before returning them to their rightful owners..
“I was shocked at first. It was really emotional. As soon as he picked Ryan and Dana up it really hit me hard,” Kelly recalls. “It’s hard being on the home front alone, and it’s amazing that he supports the troops so much and has such a tribute to them during his shows.”
Even though they are so far away, the men were able to find out about Paisley's actions during the show.
“One of my buddies here follows Brad on Twitter or Facebook, either or, and happened to recognize the two flat daddies and tagged me in a comment,” Gross explains. “Then Erin and Amanda started tagging me in photos on Facebook. Not a bad way to start a day from over here.”
As for Paisley, he says he hopes to keep connected with the soldiers after their deployment.
“I play Boston in August, so I would like to see if they can come down and stay in touch,” Paisley noes. “It’s fun to connect to these guys. This kind of connection just gives you a great feeling.”
The 41-year-old, who recently surprised troops in Afghanistan over Memorial Day weekend, says he feels a personal relationship to the men and other soldiers.
“They’re more than faces on a poster to me. These are each individuals, and it’s a really huge reminder that these guys over there have lives back here,” he explains. “When you see the person who loves them most, it just strikes you.”