Brad Paisley spent Memorial Day Weekend on a top-secret visit to Afghanistan with President Barack Obama to entertain troops. On Father’s Day, Brad continued to show his support for our troops during a show in Bangor, Maine. Sgt. Ryan Kelly and Sgt. Dana Gross were at the show, in life-size cut-out form, thanks to Sgt. Kelly’s wife, Amanda, and Sgt. Gross’ girlfriend, Erin Donnell. Brad pulled both of the cutouts on stage. The men have been stationed overseas for nearly a year.
“It got to me when I saw these cardboard cutouts,” he told the Bangor Daily News. “It’s just such a reminder of the sacrifices that these families make. That’s incredible. They’re not on tour playing sold-out shows; these guys are in harm’s way for a year.”
The women were touched by Brad’s gesture. He also signed his autograph to the “flat daddies” before returning the cutouts. “I was shocked at first,” Amanda Kelly said. “It was really emotional. As soon as he picked Ryan and Dana up it really hit me hard. 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.”
Despite the distance, the men were able to learn of Brad’s gesture through social media. “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,” Sgt. Gross said. “Then Erin and Amanda started tagging me in photos on Facebook. Not a bad way to start a day from over here.”
Brad hopes to stay in touch 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,” he said. “It’s fun to connect to these guys. This kind of connection just gives you a great feeling.”
Brad is currently headlining his Country Music Nation Tour. He will release his new album, Moonshine In The Trunk, on August 26.