I was born in 1924, in small, coal-mining town in Cambria County, Penn.
As I grew up, my heroes became J. Edgar Hoover and the G-Men, who were highly publicized in the 1920s and 1930s by the media and the cinema. The G-Men were carrying machine guns and hunting down public enemies like Machine Gun Kelly, Al Capone, John Dillinger, Ma Barker and Pretty Boy Floyd.
J. Edgar Hoover had become director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1924, while Calvin Cooledge was president. Mr. Hoover sought to professionalize the Bureau and proceeded to do so for the next half century. As a youngster, it was then I had my dream of one day becoming an FBI agent. I knew it would take years and great persistence, and I would have to be 25-35 years of age and have to have a degree in either law or accounting. I knew my personal life would need to be spotless, and I would have to meet rigorous criteria.
As I got older (and had no college money), I saw challenges in my way that looked impossible. However, I also learned that dreams can come true if one had the courage and determination and was willing to sacrifice and invest time and energy into reaching a goal.
Upon graduating from high school, I applied for a clerk’s job in the FBI.
Mr. Hoover had established an Identification Division in the FBI, and I was accepted for training as a fingerprint classifier.
While working at the FBI Identification Division, I was also classified as 1-A in the military draft. Because I was subject to call to serve, my FBI career could not proceed.
I volunteered to enter the U.S. Army, where, after fighting as an Infantry soldier in the Invasion of Anzio and Southern France and into Germany, I found myself in the Army of Occupation. Here came a break that helped me pursue my dream. I was eligible for the GI Bill of Rights, which I used to complete my education.
My dream to become an FBI special agent and to work with my hero, Mr. Hoover, finally came true in 1955, after teaching for five years. I was hired as a special FBI agent and continued serving in that job for 23 years, when I retired in 1978. It took all those years and much help from others along the way, great persistence, time, money and personal sacrifice for one young at heart to prove you can make a dream come true.