Family, friends, and a community celebrate the life of Staff Sergeant Steven Blass at the Estherville High School gym Tuesday afternoon.
ESTHERVILLE, Iowa (KTIV) -
There are many ways to serve your country. And those who put on a military uniform know the risks and the reality all to well.
The community of Estherville, Iowa gathered to pay tribute a young man who served with honor and died in the fight for freedom.
For Staff Sgt. Steven Blass, serving his country was more than a job.
"Let's look at his choices. He found a calling not just a profession or career, but a calling. A calling, that he loved deeply. And for which he was perfectly suited. He was very good at it and widely respected," said Brigadier General Peter DeLuca.
As crew chief on board a blackhawk helicopter in Afghanistan, on his second tour, you could say serving was his livelihood.
"Just going to the service and doing what he needed to do and got it done. That will always be in everybody's hearts," said Rhonda Hansen, Estherville.
Blass was one of five killed when their chopper crashed during a routine training mission two weeks ago. His funeral in the Estherville High School gym gives family and the community a time to mourn. And, a time to remember the 27-year-old, who with his farming roots, became a friend to so many.
"Every time we drive by there and see one of the tractors out there, you'll always think of Steve," said Ernest Harvego, Family Friend.
Outside, a tribute to Blass. Thousands of flags leading from main street to the school.
With each flutter, friends remember the meaning behind Blass' sacrifice.
"Well it's not in vain. Sometimes you just think it doesn't touch you, but when you see it on the news, you see it all the time probably where they've died, but boy this, it touches you when you know the family, and it's hard to , you could just put a face and a name and a laugh and a hug. It's hard," said Hansen.
"Steven did an honor for his nation by giving his sacrifice, and the honor that we show him today is to thank him and his family for what he does for our country," said Janet Harvego, Family Friend.
And because he served his country, he leaves behind a grateful community.
Blass is survived by his wife Tricia and their 16-month old son, Hayden.
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