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Mourners gather to remember Sgt. James T. Hackemer

GOWANDA -- American flags line the sidewalks that lead to the Gowanda Assembly of God church, where mourners are filing in to funeral services for Sgt. James T. Hackemer.

Hackemer, a double amputee from his service in the Iraq War, fell to his death Friday from a roller coaster at Darien Lake amusement park.


11:11 a.m.: The Rev. Randy Pratt is addressing the gathering at the Assembly of God church. "They who die in the Lord are blessed," Pratt said. "We celebrate because James is blessed because he died in the Lord. He knew the Lord. The Lord knew him and the Lord was in his heart. And we celebrate; let us celebrate."

11:13 a.m.: "There are no more struggles. There's no more pain," Pratt said. "No more trials. No more tribulations. Perfect rest."

11:15 a.m.: "This life was short but I'll tell you it was more meaningful than perhaps many of our lives," Pratt said.

11:25 a.m.: A pair of Vietnam veterans are among the group gathered outside the church during the service:


A number of mourners are gathered in parking lots adjacent to the church in both the church lot and the lot for Gowanda Elementary School.

11:27 a.m.: The pastor counted to three and the crowd shouted and appluaded as a symbol of praise to God for Hackemer's life.

11:38 a.m.: Hackemer's older sister Jody said he was such a big baby. "He wouldn't even take Tylenol in poll form. He was the baby of our family. I am going to miss him just so much."

11:42 a.m.: A poem is being read. It's called "I'm Free." 

12:17 p.m.: The casket has been wheeled out of the church and the honor guard has fired its rifles.

12:25 p.m.: Hackemer's father was presented with an American flag.

12:27 p.m.: The church bells are ringing as people are making their way back to their vehicles.

--Lauren Mariacher

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