Widow of fallen NC trooper presented with replica badge after original stolen

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LELAND, N.C. (WECT) – North Carolina troopers have presented the 98-year-old widow a replica badge after her late husband’s badge was stolen from her recently.

Sgt. Michael Baker with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol says Margaret Padgett was presented with the replica during a memorial service to honor fallen law enforcement across the state Thursday.

Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr. and Major Daryl Conley presented Padgett with the new badge in an attempt to offer closure while the search for the original heirloom continues. An inscription on both the original and replica badge reads ‘Paul W. Smith EOW 05-27-48’.

The NC Highway Patrol announced earlier in the week they were working with the family to help Padgett find her husband’s badge after it was stolen in Leland.

Trooper Paul Winifred Smith was described as a decorated WWII hero and died in the line of duty in 1948. According to NC DPS records, the patrolman drowned in Stanly County after the hood of his car came open and caused him to run off the road and flip into a water-filled ditch.

Padgett has carried his shirt badge in her wallet since his death. The wallet containing the badge was reportedly stolen from her cart during a shopping trip at the Walmart in Leland last week.

Leland police and Highway Patrol officials are both working to find the badge. Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. Michael Baker at 919 733-5027 or your local Highway Patrol office.

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