Fallen Iowa Soldier Honored

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

Gov. Terry Branstad is ordering flags to fly at half-staff next week to honor an Iowa soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Branstad has ordered all flags in the state to be flown at half-staff from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to honor U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Steven Blass.

The 27-year-old from Estherville in northwest Iowa was among five crew members killed March 11th in a helicopter crash in Kandahar province. His funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Estherville High School gym.

Blass was married and had a young son. He enlisted in the Army in 2006 and was on his second combat deployment.

Branstad's order applies to all state-owned flags and those in federal government buildings in Iowa.

Meanwhile, dozens of people have helped arrange more than 2,000 American flags in honor of Staff Sgt. Blass. The flags were provided by Larry Eckhardt of Little York, Illinois, who goes by the nickname of "Flag Man."

He's done the same more than 100 times in 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."

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