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Estherville, IA Honors Fallen Hero

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Estherville, Iowa -

Family and friends gathered to pay their final respects to Staff Sergeant Steven Blass. The Estherville, Iowa native was one of five soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan just over two weeks ago.

Sergeant Steven Blass joined the army in 2006 and returned to United States soil as a fallen hero exactly 7 years from the day he left for basic training. His family says it was his dream to serve his county and work with helicopters.

Family Friend Cheryl Baddeley said, "The whole Blass family is very, very nice and Steve is such a caring person and all he ever wanted to do was fly. He died so we could be here today he gave up all of his tomorrows so we could have our today."

Not everyone at the funeral knew staff sergeant Blass.

Leslie Opats said, "I lost a boy in June 15th 2010 in Iraq."

Since then Opats has made it to almost every fallen Iowa Soldier's funeral.

Opats said, "It is important that we support all of the troops that are over across and those that give their lives."

Thousands of American Flags and community members lined the streets of Estherville to say goodbye to a man whose legacy will stretch far beyond the community.

Baddeley said, "Eternally grateful, we owe him a debt and everybody needs to realize that they are over there for us."

All of those flags lining the street were thanks to a man from Illinois who goes by the name 'Flag Man'.

Larry Eckhardt of Little York, Illinois, has done this 105 times now: traveling in his van, carrying over 2 thousand 200 American flags and planting them in communities where folks are suffering from a void in their town and in their hearts.