Afghanistan to Maine in the click of a button: Brad Paisley connects with U.S. soldiers during an emotional show

By Katie Kauss
June 18, 2014 03:55 PM
Courtesy Brad Paisley

It turns out that the distance between Afghanistan and Bangor, Maine, is much shorter than one might think.

During a stop on his Country Nation world tour Monday night, Brad Paisley noticed two large cutouts of soldiers (known as “flat daddies” to the military community) being held up in the crowd. The singer grabbed the cutouts and told the crowd, “This is what it’s all about. These guys are heroes.” He signed the flat daddies and handed them back to the women who’d been holding them.

Following the show, Paisley wrote on Twitter, “Anybody get a better shot from the front of the signs with the soldiers on em? Mine’s blurry and I’d love to know their names.”

It took a local newspaper just 60 minutes to identify the soldiers, Sgt. Ryan Kelly and Sgt. Dana Gross, through social media; Kelly’s wife and Gross’s girlfriend brought the “daddies” to the concert (and bring them on all of their adventures, according to the Bangor Daily News). Coincidentally, Sgt. Kelly had been in attendance at Paisley’s surprise concert in Afghanistan on Memorial Day.

“Crazy to play for the soldiers 2weeks ago in Afg. & then their significant others here at home,” the singer Tweeted after he was informed of the soldiers’ identities.

Since they couldn’t actually be at Monday night’s concert, Sgt. Kelly and Sgt. Gross have an invitation from the singer himself to attend his show in Boston in August, after they return from deployment in July.