Iowa News

Thousands of flags honor northwest Iowa soldier

ESTHERVILLE, Iowa (AP) - Dozens of people have helped arrange more than 2,000 American flags in honor of a fallen U.S. Army soldier from northwest Iowa.

Twenty-seven-year-old 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 says "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 Tuesday at 2 p.m.

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