Man honors fallen soldier with thousands of flags - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Man honors fallen soldier with thousands of flags

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© "We need these guys and girls. This is just my way of saying thanks," said Eckhardt. © "We need these guys and girls. This is just my way of saying thanks," said Eckhardt.
ESTHERVILLE, Iowa (KTIV) -

Friday, a seemingly endless number of American flags waved goodbye to 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Steven Blass, of Estherville.

Blass was killed on March 11th when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. The flags were in arranged in his memory, a sight that touched many.

"Our son was killed in the service. This is just the most amazing thing I've ever seen," said Bev Zitterich.

"It's really remarkable," added Bev's husband, Chuck.

Larry Eckhardt, from Little York, Ill., brought them. It's part of his traveling tradition which earned him his nickname.

"The Flagman," said Eckhardt.

Larry started seven years ago. He was at his first military service and shocked by Old Glory's limited showing.

"I just assumed there would be flags everyplace. Then I got to thinking about it and realized there's no town out there that can afford to have enough flags," said Eckhardt.

So, he bought 50 and started taking them to the funerals of men and women around the Midwest. He now travels 10 states and has been to more than 100 services.

Through donations and purchases his flags have grown to more than 2,000 in all. Putting them up was no easy task.

Larry had more than 300 volunteers helping in Estherville, pounding flags into the frozen ground in one afternoon.

"It was rough. My volunteers worked their tails off. I guarantee there are some people out there, sore this morning," said Eckhardt.

They may be sore, but they're also thankful for The Flagman's efforts. As he, raises flags in memory of their loved one's sacrifice.

"We need these guys and girls. This is just my way of saying thanks," said Eckhardt.

The Flagman has to take down all his flags Tuesday, so he can be at another service in Illinois, Wednesday.

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