Flat Stanley may be made of paper, but he’s no ordinary paper doll in the hands of 6-year-old Connor Covel and Connor’s dad.
Connor’s Flat Stanley survived 15 combat missions in Afghanistan. He made bombs for demolition exercises, and rode an Army helicopter and a C-17 transport. He won a Bronze Star – and Connor has the photos to prove it.
Not bad for a piece of paper.
Flat Stanley is the fictional character in the 1964 book by the same name that has inspired thousands of kids to learn about geography and life in other parts of the world.
In the book, Stanley is accidentally flattened when a bulletin board hanging above his bed falls on him. The boy survives, but is so flat he can slide under doors and be mailed to friends.
Grade school teachers often assign students to read the book and make their own Flat Stanley to send to far-off places. The hope is that the acquaintances will snap a photo of Flat Stanley and send it back to the youngster.
Connor crafted his Flat Stanley in Kathryn Cassel’s first grade class at Carter Lake Elementary School on McChord Air Force Base in the spring. He sent Stanley to his dad who was deployed to Afghanistan at the time.
Connor’s dad laminated Flat Stanley and brought him along on missions, snapping dozens of photos of the paper boy.
He included the best shots in a scrapbook he assembled for Connor. After he returned from his deployment in May, he visited his son’s class to help Connor present Stanley’s adventures.
"I liked the pictures and the words," Connor said of the scrapbook. "There’s pictures of Flat Stanley doing things in Afghanistan, like riding in a helicopter and driving four-wheelers."
During the stay, Flat Stanley grew a beard and got combat gear. Check out Flat Stanley’s helmet and night vision goggles in this photo of Connor from the Clover Park School District web site.
"Dad drew them," Conner explained.
"I thought it was a really cool, cool idea (for Stanley) to experience all these different things," Earl Covel said.
"Connor doesn’t have the opportunity to see a lot of the things I do and see on a daily basis. I wanted to give a him a keepsake that he can show his kids some day. All the guys I work with enjoyed it and thought it was a lot of fun, too."