116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
I got an email Sunday night from a longtime friend who knows more about sports history in Iowa than anyone I’ve ever met. When he tells me something, it’s usually something I didn’t know at all, or didn’t know the full story behind it.
Unfortunately, the subject material in this particular case is terribly tragic. Friday night, Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith became the second member in the history of the Iowa State Patrol to be shot to death on duty.
Smith, a 27-year veteran with the State Patrol, was killed during an armed standoff in Grundy Center. Michael Lang was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said Smith “died a hero” and “sacrificed himself protecting others.”
Smith had been stationed to the patrol’s district office in Oelwein since 1996. He led one of the patrol’s tactical teams.
Knowing this will invite hate mail just by writing it, I’ll never understand this nation’s obsession with guns. I’ve given up trying to figure it out.
Anyway, the sports angle is this. Smith was the second trooper in State Patrol’s history to be shot and killed in the line of duty. The first was in 1936. His name is Oran Pape, who had played football at the University of Iowa.
Patrolman Oran “Nanny” Pape was shot and killed while struggling with a suspect who had abducted him during a traffic stop on Highway 61 near Fairport. Patrolman Pape had stopped the vehicle, suspecting it was stolen. As he approached the car the driver pointed a gun at him and told him to get into the vehicle.
As they drove away Patrolman Pape grabbed the driver and began to struggle with him. During the struggle two shots were fired, one struck Patrolman Pape in the abdomen and groin and the other struck the suspect in the head, killing him instantly. Patrolman Pape was able to seek help and was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wound the next day.
Patrolman Pape had served with the Iowa State Patrol for one year.
Pape was born in Wahpeton, Iowa. He grew up in Dubuque and was a member of Dubuque High School’s 1924 state-championship football team and went on to play at Iowa.
In 1928, Pape had a 67-yard touchdown run to allow Iowa to defeat Minnesota, 7-6. The following year, he again had a TD run against the Gophers in Iowa’s 9-7 victory.
Pape then want on to play in the National Football League for five different teams including the Green Bay Packers.
After he was done with football, Pape moved back to Iowa and joined the Iowa Highway Patrol. He had been on duty for about eight months when he was shot. He died in a Muscatine hospital at age 32 and was buried in Dubuque.
This is from EncyclopediaDubuque.org:
Accounts of the size of the funeral procession stated it was "probably one of the longest in the history of the city." Nearly one hundred cars followed the hearse with fifteen minutes passing between the time the first car arrived at Linwood until the time the last car was admitted. Among those in attendance was Mrs. Alex Miller, Iowa Secretary of State and thirty members of the eastern half of the Iowa Highway Patrol, and a delegation from the University of Iowa athletic department including the head football coach.
In 2012, a building on the State Capitol grounds in Des Moines was renamed the Oran Pape State House Building. The following year, the Interstate 80 bridge over the Cedar River in Cedar County was renamed the Trooper Oran Pape Memorial Bridge.
Here’s hoping there is never a third state trooper who dies that way. Here’s hoping no one dies that way.
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