Fallen Pascagoula officer honored with memorial highway

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A Pascagoula fallen officer now has a portion of Highway 90 dedicated in his honor. The Mississippi Department of Transportation and the city of Pascagoula held a special ceremony Thursday for the late Major Nathaniel Smith Jr.

The evening of honor began with patriotic music, followed by words praise from fellow law enforcers, state leaders, and those who admired Officer Smith.

"By all accounts, Major Smith was the leader of law enforcement and a community leader," Fourth District Congressman Steven Palazzo said.

Then Smith's daughter got up and fought back tears as she remembered all the wonderful things about her dad.

"He had a very distinctive laugh, and he was the best daddy in the world," Natalie Roberson said.

This dedicated dad was also a dedicated police officer. For 16 years, he helped fight crime on the streets and keep people safe in Pascagoula. It was on May 22, 1976, as he was leaving security detail job, when a drunk driver hit and killed him. For Smith's service and sacrifice, a portion of Highway 90 will now bear his name. The family said it's a much deserved tribute.

"I think Daddy would be proud. It has been 35 years since he passed away and it is good to remember him," Roberson said.

Smith's nephew, Vernon Smith, agrees and has continued the law enforcement legacy.

"He inspired me from a child, and he lost his life doing what he loved," Smith said. "It inspired me so that I wanted to come and walk in his shoes and see what he went through."

Many of the other folks at Thursday's memorial said every time they drive down Highway 90, the father, friend, and most off all top cop will be in their hearts and minds.

The portion of the highway dedicated to Smith will stretch from 14th Street to Chicot Road. Fallen Pascagoula Police officer Terry Michael Byrd was also honored with a memorial highway this year.

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