For The Honor Of Their Fathers
".... you don't know what hell is until you are a young housewife in Chicago with a 3-month old child and your husband gets a call to throw some clothes in a bag and go to Wisconsin at once. Later that evening a radio bulletin said that 2 unidentified FBI agents had been killed in Wisconsin. The wife of the agent across the hall and I called the Bureau headquarters all night trying frantically to find out if we were widows! .......When you have gone through that you will have been through hell." (Judge Don Metcalfe's recalls the words of his mother about his dad who had been sent to "Little Bohemia.")
The Depression Era's war on crime came on hard and it came on fast. To say that there wasn't any type of formal training for them is an understatement. As Judge Don Metcalfe told me in a 2009 telephone interview, "It wasn't until months after the Kansas City Massacre in 1933 that my father had to learn how to shoot a gun and drive a car."
By year's end of 1934, three more FBI Agents would be dead and others wounded by the wretched bastards they pursued. Policemen and detectives who worked with or without the Bureau were no less vulnerable. Many Agents who fought the 1930's war on crime didn't understand how much all of it would tax their home lives. Their bravery overshadowed the thoughts that they may make widows of their wives and leave their children fatherless. They endured the relentless fatigue of extremely long hours; of being in one city one day and another the next. The all night driving or the endless Pullman train rides. At times, on the move with only the clothing on their backs. Shacking in some motel or private room in a remote corner of a dusty and dry America. There would be days and weeks away from their wives, their children and their friends who would have no idea of where they were or what they were doing. For many they'd be constantly on the run with nothing more than a slice of day old apple pie, and a cup or two of someone's rancid coffee.
A very small piece of information predicated the design and purpose of this website. Several years ago, an online Dallas newspaper report revealed that the memoirs of former FBI Special Agent, Charles Winstead were in a museum in Sherman, Texas. Having known the Winstead name and his role in the Dillinger shooting and many other high profile cases of the '30s, one could only wonder why a document of this value to FBI and police history had never made it out of the city of Sherman where Winstead was born. Or at least copies of it. It was important that others read it.
Yet within the story of John Dillinger and the Winstead memoirs, came a final note from the author of the Dallas article. He said, "FBI Agent Winstead, who died in bed at 82 in 1973, is today widely disremembered."
It's one of those statements you need to read twice. It's also one of those statements that should cause us to wonder and shake our heads.
How could a man like Winstead and the role he played in Southwest law enforcement and FBI history not be remembered? There was something that just wasn't right with this. How many others are "disremembered?" Men who were so important to the pioneering of law enforcement and the beginnings of an FBI as we know it.
Who were these forgotten FBI men of the Depression Era? Where did they come from and where did they go when they left the FBI; where are their children and grand children today? What of the pictures and letters they left behind; what of their manuscripts and diaries? What about their own official record as to what really happened that's been ignored by many?
An entire generation of FBI Agents is gone. So is the evil they pursued. The agent's biographies are diverse. From immigrants to those born here; from lawyers to accountants and former Texas Rangers, or Oklahoma and surrounding lawmen; sports legends, boxers, war veterans of World War I and World War II.
For decades, these G-men and their police and detective counterparts have been denied and forgotten. Critics of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI would just as well believe the accounts of the gangsters, the media who is wrong more than they want to admit, and third generation "witnesses" before they'll believe the official record of the men who were there. Generations of both young and old continue to thrive on the supposed good deeds of the Dillingers of the day; the so called "Robin Hoods" that armchair romantics write about. Not many will know the names of the men who left their homes and families in pursuit of those who wreaked havoc on the weak and defenseless of American society. Under perhaps the worst of conditions, FBI men and local law enforcement officers of the time who were the real heroes of a crime era complete with total lawlessness, corrupt cities and politicians; of Tommy guns and dusty Midwest roads; of wooden shacks, rented rooms, running boards, and straw hats.
If we've forgotten their names and faces, at least FBI Agent James J. Metcalfe of the 30's left us with their vision when he wrote "Portraits; We Were The G-Men." "We helped the Bureau grow, we suffered heartaches and we lost the lives of several men. But surely every one of us would do that job again. Because today the FBI is worthy of its name and we are proud and happy that we helped create its fame."
This website is a tribute to the many FBI Agents of the '30s now long "disremembered" and the young organization they were so proud of. It is their recorded accounts; it's their photos they left behind and their letters, diaries and memoirs that leave us not only a human side, but a picture of what it must have all been like for them during those dark, dusty years of battling crime.
.........For their surviving children and grandchildren, this site is for the honor of their fathers.
During 2013, this site under constant construction ; stop back often
Website owner, retired FBI Special Agent Larry Wack spent the years of 1968 to 1972 working under Director J. E. Hoover's FBI as a support employee while attending college at night. After Director Hoover died in May, 1972, Mr. Wack continued working at FBI Headquarters until 1975. In 1975, being a graduate of American University in Washington, D. C., he became a Special Agent of the FBI and spent the next 28 years working on FBI Violent Crime and Terrorism Task Forces first in New York City and then Buffalo, NY area. He retired as an FBI Special Agent in 2003.
Comments and opinions of the editor/ site owner do not necessarily reflect those of other current /former or retired Special Agents nor other law enforcement entities. The site editor/owner is not a spokesman for the FBI or any of its affiliate groups, organizations or Society.