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Army Staff Sgt. Steven P. Blass

Died March 11, 2013 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

27, of Estherville, Iowa; assigned to 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.; died March 11 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash.

Thousands of flags honor northwest Iowa soldier

The Associated Press

ESTHERVILLE, Iowa — Dozens of people have helped arrange more than 2,000 American flags in honor of a fallen soldier from northwest Iowa.

Twenty-seven-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Steven Blass of Estherville was one of five soldiers killed in the March 11 crash of a helicopter in Afghanistan.

The flags were provided Thursday by Larry Eckhardt of Little York, Ill., who goes by the nickname of "Flag Man."

He's done the same more than 100 times at other communities. Eckhardt said "there are a lot of freedoms out there that these men and women are guaranteeing us. ... So it's important that these flags protect him on his last trip."

The funeral is scheduled to be held in the Estherville High School gym at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

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