You took me where!? Soldier’s friends take cardboard cut-out of him while he is serving overseas so that he doesn’t feel like he is missing out
A soldier returned from serving overseas shocked to find his friends had been taking a CARDBOARD CUT-OUT of him wherever they went while he was away.
Aaron Mast, 29, had the cut-out made as a stand-in for a wedding that he couldn’t make it to when he went away to serve in Afghanistan.
But he was shocked to find that his committed friends kept it up for nine months and that the cut-out had been attending weddings, Christmas and parties in his absence.
Aaron, from Dover, Delaware, said: “It really sucked being away from my friends and family for such a long time and I hated missing out on big events like weddings and birthdays.
“But I had no idea that it would turn into such an amazing project for all my friends and family to keep me in their thoughts while I was away.”
After enlisting in 2003, Aaron served two tours in Iraq, the first in 2005 and the second in 2008.
Last March he was due to go overseas for his third tour as a sergeant in a communications unit when he realised he would be away for the marriage of his good friends Christina and JJ.
Fed up of missing out on wedding photos, Aaron decided to have cardboard cut-out of himself made and left it in the care of his friends so he could still feature in the snaps on their big day.
His lifesize cutout, dressed in a smart black tie, made it into all the photos and was even pictured swigging whisky at the bar and dancing with bridesmaids.
But his enthusiastic friends didn’t stop there, and started taking him to parties, bars and family events.
The model was snapped at a New Year’s Eve party, on stage with a local band and even at Christina’s hen party but Aaron only realised when he started being tagged on facebook at events he hadn’t been able to attend.
As the real Aaron trekked around Afghanistan dismantling US army bases in preparation for the allied forces exit from the country, his alter-ego was celebrating Christmas and Halloween back in Delaware.
His devoted friend Paula DePrima took the cut-out everywhere with her, looking after it at the first wedding and making sure he always got in on the action.
When he got back to the United States in February 2014 the pair got together as a couple and they’re now looking forward to spending Christmas together for real.
Aaron said: “All of my friends got involved and took me to my family’s house for big holidays.
“I think it was great for my mum that she felt like I could be there in part for her birthday.
“They always say that I am the life and soul of the party and that having my semi-attendance made a big difference.
“It was even bigger than I could have imagined.
“I only got access to the internet once a week so every time I logged on I could see what my friends had been up to and where my cut-out had been.
“The cardboard me got lots of attention!
“It was really encouraging knowing that my friends were thinking of me while I was away serving my country and humbling to know that they were lugging a giant cardboard model around to all these parties.
“Paula took the cut-out under her wing at the wedding and after that she carried me everywhere – I think she realised how attached she was to me while I was away!
“Having the cut-out fill in for me while I was abroad was great but I’m glad to be in attendance for real this year!”