"Flag Man" Honors Staff Sgt. Steven Blass with 2,280 American Flags

By Staci DaSilva, KCAU-TV

ESTHERVILLE, Iowa - Hundreds of people gathered in Estherville, IA on Thursday to put up thousands of American flags to honor their fallen soldier, Staff Sgt. Steven Blass.

And the flags come from 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 2,200 American flags and planting them in communities where folks are suffering from a void in their town and in their hearts.

"There are a lot of freedoms out there that these men and women are guaranteeing us that we have. So its important that these flags protect him on his last trip," said Larry Eckhardt.

He's in Estherville, Iowa now to honor Staff Sergeant Steven Blass, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan last Monday.

The flags will line the streets through Blass's funeral next week.

"To me, he's a brother. I didn't serve but he should be everybody's brother. I tell everybody, this is his last gift to the community," said Eckhardt.

"It'll be absolutely beautiful when its up and it's the least we can do to honor our fallen soldier," said Lyle Hevern of Estherville.

While sharing these flags is Larry's way to give back to his heroes, he says, he longs for the day when he can hang these flags for holidays, instead of funerals.
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