|Tom McDade’s FBI application photo, |
courtesy of the FBI.
Upon review, Museum staff found that Agent McDade’s 318-page diary includes firsthand accounts about some big players in the 1930s FBI and gangster scene. Unlike the (somewhat dry) official FBI reports, McDade’s diary offers a window into his life as an FBI agent, from everyday details to thrilling car chases and shootouts.
November 27, 1934 Thursday. A day I will never forget. What follows is a riveting description of McDade’s and an agent named Ryan’s encounter with Baby Face Nelson and his associates.
They turned again and running about 40-45 miles per hour they ran along side and the driver yelled to us to pull over. A man in the back seat had a rifle or tommy pointed at us. I stepped on the gas and ran down road and they opened fire. The plunk of the shots sounded on our rear. We bent low and Ryan started firing through the rear window with an automatic. I kept the accelerator to the floor and ran about 72-75 M.P.H. We drew away from them but they continued to follow. We looked for a road to turn off to phone or get to cover from their guns but had to run…In trying to turn in I went too fast ran off the road and into a field. We jumped from the car and Ryan borrowed an attendant’s at a gas station to get to a phone. I watched the road but they didn’t follow. Purvis advised us to come back...
McDade and his partner managed to escape Nelson. Unfortunately, two other FBI agents, Hollis and Cowley, weren’t so lucky. Later in the day, Nelson and his associates shot and killed Special Agent Hollis. Special Agent Cowley would pass the next day of his mortal wounds.
|Jared McDade (holding his father's diary) and Craig W. Floyd, |
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO
Learn more about Agent McDade and his diary.