By Monica Yantosh
ELON, N.C.- Amy DeNenno moved into Hook dorm this weekend, but she is no stranger to campus. Her brother, First Lt. Joe DeNenno, graduated from the school in 2009 and is currently serving overseas in Afghanistan.
Flat Joe, a small cut-out of DeNenno, goes everywhere with the DeNennos.
Flat Joe at breakfast with family and friends
“It was really hard, I miss him a lot, and so like holding Flat Joe just like brought back some emotions,” Amy DeNenno said.
The DeNennos created Flat Joe when First Lt. DeNenno was deployed earlier this year. The paper cut out is a take off of Flat Stanley, a paper man that many elementary school kids send around the world while documenting his adventures.
Amy has her own Flat Joe here at school, her parents have one, and many of the DeNenno’s family friends have one. They update First Lt. DeNenno with his counterpart’s travels.
“Basically, any kind of thing that we would do together, I would just bring him with, so it’s kind of just like a buddy,” Amy said.
Even though it’s tough for the DeNenno’s to be apart, Flat Joe is their reminder to be thankful.
“It’s a great way to constantly remember Joe, never let him slip from your mind,” Amy’s father, Dick DeNenno, said.
Dick DeNenno has taken Joe on numerous business trips so far, and lets Flat Joe be the reminder of how proud he is of his son.
“Joe’s a very unselfish guy, and he sees it as a privilege and a responsibility. Of course, I’m very, very proud of him,” Dick said.