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One of Estherville’s own killed in Afghanistan

March 15, 2013
Estherville Daily News

Sgt. Steve Blass, 27, of Estherville, was one of five Americans killed Monday in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, Blass' family confirmed Friday through the Henry-Olson Funeral Home.

The Department of Defense does not release any information until 24 hours after all the immediate relatives in all the families have been notified.

Services are pending at the funeral home.

The city of Estherville has lowered its flags to half mast in honor of Sgt. Blass. Federal and state government offices must await the official notice of death before honoring a soldier by lowering flags to half mast.

According to the Des Moines Register, more than 90 Iowans or service members with Iowa ties have died since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began in March 2003.

Monday night's crash brought the total number of U.S. troops killed that day to seven, making it the deadliest day for U.S. forces so far this year. Two U.S. special operations forces were gunned down hours earlier in an insider attack by an Afghan policeman in eastern Afghanistan.

The NATO military coalition said in a statement that "initial reports" showed no enemy activity in the area at the time. The cause of the crash is under investigation, the statement said.

A U.S. official said all five of the dead were American. The official said the helicopter went down outside Kandahar city, the capital of Kandahar province.

The five dead included everyone aboard the UH-60 Black Hawk, said Maj. Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the international military coalition in Afghanistan.

Their deaths make 12 U.S. troops killed so far this year in Afghanistan. There were 297 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan in 2012, according to an Associated Press tally.

It was the deadliest crash since August, when a U.S. military helicopter crashed during a firefight with insurgents in a remote area of Kandahar.



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