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Collins Veterans Day ceremony to honor late Iraq War veteran

COLLINS — An Iraq War veteran who lost both of his legs in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq in 2007 and who died after being flung from a Darien Lake Theme Park & Resort roller coaster in 2011 will be the focus of a Veterans Day memorial in Collins. Sergeant James Hackemer’s name will be placed on a memorial plaque, to be set at the base of a new flag pole at the Collins Town Park.

Collins Town Supervisor Dave Tessmer said this is the first time the town of Collins will host a Veterans Day program, which begins at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12. “There was a real desire to have a program, of some sort,” Tessmer said, adding that the new flagpole is a way for the town to show support for its armed forces. “This pole will help symbolize what our veterans mean to us.”

Tessmer, who assumed his role as town supervisor this year, said it was important to him that the town have a Veterans Day program.

Hackemer, who went through three years of rehabilitation after the improvised explosive device attack was riding Darien Lake Theme Park’s Ride of Steel roller coaster with his nephew, when the accident happened. Hackemer was ejected from the front row of the coaster.

As part of the memorial, the Honor Guard will be in attendance on Nov. 12 and a bugler with play “Taps.” Tessmer said that he will say a few words. Other local officials have been invited to attend and speak, as well.

The service will also give Tessmer and town officials the opportunity to present to the community some improvements made at the town park, including a walking track and athletic field.
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