FBI Special Agent

Photo of the Day

1933 Wilbur Underhill Shootout: (L to R) Firearms Instructors, SA “Jerry” Campbell, Unknown, and SA John Vincent taking part in a filming by Universal at Quantico firing range during the mid 1930s.

FBI Beginnings ..


“…. 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, son of SA James Metcalfe, recalls his mother’s words.)

The Depression Era’s war on crime came on hard, and it came on fast. To say that formal firearms and investigative training was still in its infancy is an understatement. As Judge Don Metcalfe said 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.”

The 1920s claimed the lives of two FBI agents. Between 1933 and 1934 alone, four FBI agents would be dead, and others wounded by the wretched bastards they pursued. By decade’s end, four more agents would be added to the list of those lost. Policemen, sheriffs and detectives who worked with or without the Bureau were no less vulnerable.

Bureau agents and others who fought the 1930’s war on crime didn’t understand how much all of it would tax their home lives. Their remarkable bravery overshadowed the haunted thoughts that they may make widows of their wives and leave their children fatherless. What records of both theirs and official that can be found?reveal the enduring and relentless fatigue of extremely long hours; of being in one city one day and another the next. The all night driving or the seemingly limitless Pullman train rides. Boring and endless stakeouts; false leads and mistaken identities.? At times, on the move with only the clothing on their backs. Only to bed down in some motel or private room in a remote corner of a dusty, dry America or a grimy industrial city. 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,?the chase offered the best meal it could;?a hardened sandwich and a cup or two of some diner’s rancid coffee.

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