Remembering Deputy James D. Paugh
By: Kara Apel Email
By: Kara Apel Email

News 12 also remembers law enforcement officers who have died in our area:

  •  Deputy Eric Mark Sikes, Richmond County Sheriff's Office. He died March 21, 2007, during a car accident.
  • Sgt. Jason Sheppard, Aiken County Sheriff's Office. He died in December 2006 after being hit while directing traffic.
  • Deputy Shane Hamilton, Richmond County Sheriff's Office. He died in October 2005 in a car accident.
  • Deputy Kenneth Raymond Burton, Richmond County Sheriff's Office. He died Jan. 4, 2004, after being hit by a car while directing traffic.
  • Deputy Sheriff Wesley Mack, Columbia County Sheriff's Office. He died July 12, 2004, after being hit by a car while directing traffic.
  • Chief Deputy Charles Junior Smith, Allendale Count Sheriff's Department. He died Aug. 24, 1992, after being shot.
  • Officer Michael Donnell Stephenson, Richmond County Board of Education. He died July 16, 1997, after being shot.

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Deputy James D. Paugh was heading home from work but decided to stop and handle one last call before turning in for the night.

It was a call that cost his life, but is being recognized as heroic by friends, family, co-workers and other members of the community.

Paugh stopped to check on a car that was pulled over on Bobby Jones Expressway. That is when police say 26-year-old Christopher Michael Hodges, a soldier stationed at Fort Gordon, opened fire.

Autopsy results revealed Paugh was shot nine times by the suspect. One of the bullets struck Paugh's weapon, disabling it from functioning.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength says it appears Hodges took his own life shortly after killing Paugh. Evidence indicates at least 42 rounds were fired at the scene.

Paugh was a 17-year veteran of law enforcement.

Sheriff Strength issued a special order Oct. 25 to retire Paugh's call sign, T-31, in honor of the fallen deputy.

"Deputy James D. Paugh was doing what he loved to do -- serving the people of this community," Strength said in the order.

His funeral was held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 27 at the First Baptist Church of Augusta on Walton Way Extension. Rodger B. Murchison, the associate pastor of First Baptist Church, and Chaplain Ken Gross of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office officiated. Interment followed at Hillcrest Memorial Park.

Local residents showed support for Paugh's family and fellow officers on the day of his funeral by placing signs and ribbons along the funeral route.

To watch the video of the entire funeral, click here

Here is the transcript of what was read at Deputy Paugh's funeral:

"What makes a hero?

Someone brave or strong? Someone fearless or noble? I have heard that J.D. Paugh was a hero. Was that because of the way he died or the way he lived?

Maybe both, but this service is a celebration of life, not death. This service is a celebration of hope, not despair. This service is a celebration of peace, not violence.

J. D. was a peace Office, a law enforcement office, he was a hero.

What makes a hero? The making of a hero is day after day doing what is right. Even when you are tired. Even when you are going home late at night and the day has been long but your duty tells you, someone might need me. And you go.

What makes a hero? When children say, “He grilled food for us in the apartment complex.” “He was a good cop, I liked him.” When a child says, “I’m going to miss Deputy Paugh.”

What makes a hero? It is an ordinary guy who is willing to do extraordinary things when duty calls.

What makes a hero? Listen to voices all around the United States who have written words of commendation about a man they call a hero:

Richmond County Sheriff's Office:

The men and women of the Walker Police Department, Walker La., are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Deputy James Paugh. When we put on our badges each day and prepare to serve our communities, we all share the sacrifice of exposing ourselves to the potential of becoming a victim of senseless and often random acts of violence. Yet we willingly accept that sacrifice because of a greater call to duty as a public servant. Deputy Paugh made the ultimate sacrifice and by doing so, likely prevented injury or death to the public that he swore he would protect … Our spirits are lifted in the knowledge that Deputy Paugh died a hero, and we are proud of his courage and selfless actions.

Please extend our condolences to your deputies and staff. Our prayers are with you all, and with Deputy Paugh's family and we ask that God be with all of you, that He give you all the strength and resolve to get through this very difficult time and that He use this tragedy to bring your Department and your community closer together.

With deepest sympathy,

Captain John Sharp
Public Information Officer
Walker Police Department
Walker, Lousiana

Sheriff’s (Office),
You guys are in my prayers over here in Texas. It saddens me to here of the loss of Deputy Paugh. He will be missed by the thousands in our line of work.
May God bless you and your department.

Corporal Brian Bernardo
Runaway Bay Department of Public Safety
Runaway Bay, Texas

(Dear) Sheriff,
I'd like to offer my condolences in the horrific death of Deputy James Paugh. I'm a retired officer from the Miami-Dade Police Department (Deputy) with a total of 36 years in law enforcement. It hit me especially hard to see the motor of Deputy James Paugh down on the roadside because I was a motorman. I'll be praying for Deputy Paugh, his family and extended family of law enforcement.

Fraternally,
Gregory L Horton
Miami-Dade, Florida Police Department

Richmond Co. Sheriff’s Office:

I am deeply saddened by the death of Deputy Sheriff James D. Paugh. The heartfelt appreciation … goes out to his family and friends. He served honorably and faithfully, answering the call of duty when he was needed.

Please express my sympathy and deepest condolences to his family, and that they are in my prayers during this time of grief. He is a true hero, and I hope the fact that he is honored by so many brings them some comfort in this time of loss. May they feel the comfort and love from across this nation embrace them and hold them up during this difficult time. We will not forget him and will forever be in his debt for what he has done for us.

Please let the members of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office know they are in my prayers during this dark time as they continue the mission of making our world a safer place. To each of you I say a big "thank you" for doing what you do everyday. Thank you for going into "the office" when you don't feel like it. Thank you for working the night shift when we are safe in bed. Thank you for putting on that uniform every day. Thank you for working holidays. Thank you for going through doors when you (don’t) know what … (might) be behind them. You are in my prayers.

Dr. Mike Crain
Huber Heights, OH 45424

What makes a Hero?

Listen to the Word of the Lord: Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, (and this is what makes a hero) whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What makes a hero? Truth, right, pure, admirable.

And you may be saying, why do heroes die? Why are we here? Why is this such a senseless act of violence?

'Why' questions must be asked, but in the end they are a one-way road to nowhere. I challenge us all to change our grief question from 'why' to 'what.'

What do we do, now that this has happened? What can be done to honor the memory of J.D.? What can be done to comfort J.D.’s family and friends? What are my favorite memories of J.D.? What J. D. stories could I tell and keep on telling? What would J.D. want us to do?

I think J.D. would say, “Be your own hero.”

And what makes a hero? It is an ordinary guy or gal who is willing to do extraordinary things when duty calls.

Are you willing? What have we learned today? Oh not just about J.D. Paugh -- although he was a dedicated officer and a great guy. What have you learn today about life? Maybe about your life?

What have you learned about what makes a hero?

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable -- think about such things.

And with Jesus Christ as your Savior and guide -- there is no question about what makes a hero."

If you'd like to leave a word of remembrance for J.D. Paugh or his family, please leave a comment on this page. If you would like to add a picture to this page, email it to newsroom@wrdw.com.


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