Whether the trip is to McDonald’s, to see the latest Harry Potter movie, to the playground or a concert at The Venetian, Patt Sprague will tell you that her husband always accompanies her and grandsons, Joshua and Christian Lopez.

At first that doesn’t seem possible, given that Richard Sprague, a security guard at Whiskey Pete’s in civilian life, is currently serving in Iraq with the Nevada National Guard.

But it makes sense when you see how the Guardsman — who often gets salutes from Las Vegans — silently tags along.

The Richard Sprague now seen around Las Vegas is actually part of the “Flat Daddy” phenomenon, in which large cardboard cutouts of loved ones help connect families with a relative deployed to the Middle East.

Patt Sprague, 62, carries her 46-year-old husband in one hand and a purse in another. He joins them at the table for meals, or even on small trips to the grocery store.

“It really helps the boys to feel like they’re around grandpa,” Sprague said recently as she moved the cardboard replica of her husband from a mobile home near Nellis Air Force Base to a house the Spragues have purchased in North Las Vegas.

“They’ll talk to him and, I know this may seem strange, but I do, too. A large photograph of someone you love that you can take with you can do a lot for you when you’re lonely.”

Joshua and Christian couldn’t contain their excitement when Patt Sprague drove up to her new home in a Dodge Caravan emblazoned with the message “Iraqi Express … Go Guard.”

“What do you think, Grandpa?” Joshua, 7, asked the Flat Daddy sitting in the living room.

“Isn’t it great, Grandpa?” 11-year-old Christian chimed in.

The boys, along with their mother, Mary Lopez, Patt Sprague’s former daughter-in-law, will live in the North Las Vegas home with the Spragues, who have been married 19 years. Sprague’s son is now living in New York.

As she stood in her new living room, Patt Sprague hugged her husband’s cutout, which now has rips in the shoulder area, and shook her head.

“We have to be more careful with you,” she said. “You’re falling apart.”

The origin of the Flat Daddy concept is often credited to Cindy Sorenson of Bismarck, N.D., who in 2003 stuck a life-sized photo of her husband on a piece of foam board when he was in Iraq with the North Dakota National Guard. She wanted her 13-month-old daughter to recognize her father when he came home on leave.

Elaine Dumler, a Colorado author and motivational speaker, discovered what Sorenson had done when she was traveling the country doing research for her book, “I’m Already Home … Again — Keeping your family close while on assignment or deployment.”

“I asked Cindy if I could include what she had done in my book, and the idea took off,” Dumler said in a telephone interview.

“Cindy had studied how children of Guard members had mailed small cutouts of themselves to their daddies modeled on the chldren’s book ‘Flat Stanley,’ where a character is flattened and can travel by envelope anywhere in the world. It just made sense to Cindy to expand on the idea.”

Dumler said she got a trademark for “Flat Daddy” to ensure that no one would try to profit from the concept.

Executives with SFC Graphics, an Ohio company, heard about the concept and now offers a free Flat Daddy — or Flat Mommy for that matter — to immediate family members of a deployed soldier through a Web site,

The concept has become so popular with families, however, there is a five-month wait for free images.

But for $49.50, which includes postage and handling, a customer can get an image of their loved one in about three weeks.

“We’d like to be able to get free ones out faster, but that is all our business can handle right now,” SFC spokesman Eric Crockett said in a telephone interview from his company’s office in Toledo, Ohio. “We’re looking for more sponsors to help us out.”

Crockett said the $49.50 price tag is actually lower than if someone had the work done at a printing or graphics company, where it would run $75 to $100.

“We know others will do this, and that’s fine. We just want people to feel closer to their loved ones.”

Nearly 4,000 flat daddies have been produced by SFC, Crockett said.

Patt Sprague said when her husband heard about the idea, he immediately sent in the $49.50.

“He just likes the idea of his grandkids feeling he’s around,” she said.

Sprague said that when she and the boys carry the Flat Daddy around, it does draw stares. But in the six months she’s had the cutout, she said, nobody has commented that it might be a bit off-the-wall.

When she drives onto Nellis Air Force Base to shop at the commissary, military police salute the cutout of her husband, which sits in the passenger seat. The same thing happened when she took her grandchildren and the Flat Daddy to a concert at The Venetian, where Rep. Jon Porter and his band, the Second Amendments, played for military families.

“People seem to care about our men in Iraq,” she said.

Capt. April Conway, a spokeswoman for the Nevada National Guard, said she wouldn’t be surprised if the Flat Daddy concept continues to spread.

“It’s just a fun way to keep families closer together,” Conway said.

Richard Sprague, who left in July 2006 and is scheduled to return home in early September, recently lost much of his hearing when a truck he was driving ran over an explosive device. He also re-injured his neck.

“We’re hugging him more than ever right now,” Patt Sprague said as she and her grandchildren gathered around the Flat Daddy at the family’s new home.

“We want him home. I just hope we don’t break him apart in the process.”

Richard Harrison, ‘The Old Man’ of ‘Pawn Stars’ dies
Richard Harrison, ‘The Old Man’ of ‘Pawn Stars’ has died. He was the patriarch of the Harrison family and the driving force behind the popular History channel program. Harrison’s death was announced this morning on the Gold & Silver Pawn Facebook page. The announcement said Harrison “was surrounded by loving family this past weekend and went peacefully.” He was 77 years old.
Protesters Line Streets for President Trump's Arrival in Las Vegas
Hundreds lined the streets in front of Suncoast to protest President Donald Trump's arrival in Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Thunder Mountain monument stands as a tribute to Native American culture
Caretaker Fred Lewis talks about Thunder Mountain monument in central Nevada, made from concrete and found items. The five-acre site is a tribute to Native Peoples of the West. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New CCSD superintendent Jesus F. Jara aims for 1st in the nation
On his third day as Clark County School District superintendent, Jesus F. Jara talks about his vision for the future during a visit to Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts on Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Ceremony Recognizes Refugee Students, Graduates
Rosy Mibulano, a graduate of Las Vegas High School who came to America from the Congo in 2015, was recognized in a ceremony for refugee students in Clark County. Like many other students relocated to Las Vegas from countries around the world, Rosy had a challenging high school experience, from learning English to adjusting to American customs and taking care of her family. On top of that, she wants to go to school to become a nurse so she can take care of her mother, who suffers from diabetes. The annual Refugee Recognition Ceremony celebrates the enormous lengths these young adults go through to create a new life for themselves. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Water leak at Mandalay Bay convention center
The convention center area of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas experienced major flooding Tuesday afternoon. Credit: Melinda Cook
Hollywood Memorabilia Up For Grabs at Las Vegas Auction
Elvis Presley's car, Marilyn Monroe's bras, Han Solo's blaster, and Jerry Lewis's "Nutty Professor" suit are just some of the items that are up for auction at Julien's Auctions at Planet Hollywood June 22 and 23. The auction's viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like