Famous FBI Agents

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, was initially established as the Bureau of Investigation, BOI, in 1935, and its name was later changed to the FBI. Like the CIA, it is also a federal agency, but the FBI is distinguished from the CIA in that the FBI operates within the United States while the CIA is related to foreign activities and operates in foreign countries. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the FBI has 56 field offices in major U.S. cities. It has a total strength of more than 33,000 employees of which more than 13,000 are special agents. Field Agents include: Probationary Agent, Special Agent, Senior Special Agent, Supervisory Special Agent, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC), and Special Agent in Charge (SAC). The focused priorities of the FBI include: counter-terrorism assignments to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks, espionage or foreign intelligence, cyber attacks, and corruption at all levels. The protection of Americans’ civil rights is also its priority.

1. Leonard W. Hatton

 Leonard W. Hatton
Leonard W. Hatton

Leonard W. Hatton was born in 1956 and died in the line of duty in 2001. He was an experienced special agent of the FBI. He started working with the FBI in a small office in Louisiana. He was a shrewd, crime scene examiner, a certified bomb technician, and a dedicated firefighter. In 1991, he was transferred to New York as a member of an investigative team working on a bank robbery case. On September 11, 2001, while he was on his way to his office, he saw the smoke rising from the Twin Towers and took the initiative to rescue the people inside the building. From the roof of the Marriott Hotel, he reported the second airliner attack on the south tower. He alighted from the roof when the debris was falling, and he joined the firefighters to help them in their rescue efforts. He was inside the World Trade Center building when it collapsed. He was honored with a posthumous FBI Medal of Valor and Memorial Star received by his family.

2. John P. O’Neill

John P. O'Neill
John P. O’Neill

John Patrick O’Neill was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey on February 6, 1952 and died at the age of 49 years in the line of duty on September 11, 2001 in New York City, New York. He was an American National FBI Special Agent and Head of Security at the World Trade Center. He had assisted in the capture of Ramzi Yosef who led the plot of the 9/11 attack. He had also investigated the Khober Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia and the 2000 USS Cole bombing in Yemen. He was killed on the day of the 9/11 attack, and his remains were recovered from the World Trade Center on September 28, 2001. O’Neill’s name appears at the North Pool, Panel 63 of the National 9/11 Memorial.

3. Melvin Purvis

Melvin Purvis
Melvin Purvis

Melvin Purvis was born to Melvin Horace Purvis and Janie Elizabeth in Timmonsville, South Carolina, U.S. on October 24, 1903 and died on February 29, 1960.  He received his degree in law from the University of South Carolina. He joined the FBI in 1927 and had been head of the Investigation Division offices in Birmingham, Oklahoma City, and Cincinnati. He was an FBI agent of high renown and was nicknamed ‘Little Mel’ on account of his short stature. He is best known for assisting in the arrest of some of the most notorious outlaws like: Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and John Dillinger

4. John Proctor

John Proctor

John Proctor was born in 1926 in Alabama Reform, Alabama, U.S. Joining the FBI in 1952, he worked for 10 years in New York while keeping vigilance over the Soviet workers in the U.S. He is best known for extracting confessions that led to resolving the Mississippi Burning Case. He was assigned to investigating crime on Indian reservations, car hijacking, and tracking violations of civil rights laws. He made friends with people from very different spheres of society including those less privileged and children as well. He thought children were helpful in situations when parents remained tight-lipped. He used to keep his pockets full of candy. Depending upon the situation, Proctor was capable of playing both as a good and a bad cop.

5. Ted Gunderson

Theodore L. Gunderson, better known as Ted Gunderson, was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado on November 7, 1928 and died in Memphis, Tennessee on July 31, 2011 at the age of 82 years. He graduated from the University of Nebraska and joined the FBI in December, 1951. He was Senior Special Agent in Charge in Los Angeles and Special Agent in Charge in Dallas and Memphis. He is best known for handling the Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy cases. He authored the best selling book How to Locate Anyone Anywhere. He founded a private investigation firm, Ted L. Gunderson & Associates after retiring from the FBI.

6. Joseph Dominick Pistone

Joseph D. Pistone
Joseph D. Pistone

Joseph Dominick Pistone, more commonly known as Donnie Brasco, was born in Erie, Pennsylvania on September 17, 1939. He was raised in Paterson, New Jersey and graduated from the William Paterson University. He joined the FBI in 1969 and was transferred to New York in 1974. On account of his ability to drive 18-wheel trucks, he was utilized as an undercover agent to infiltrate a heavy vehicles stealing ring that led to the arrest of more than 30 criminals. He worked undercover for many years and infiltrated the Bonanno Crime Family. He wrote about his experience of undercover work in his book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia. The 1997 movie Donnie Brasco was based on this book.

7. Charles Winstead

Charles Winstead
Charles Winstead

Charles Winstead was born in Sherman, Texas, U.S. on May 25, 1891 and died in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. on August 3, 1973 at the age of 82 years. He was an FBI special agent and is best known for his shooting to kill John Dillinger in Chicago on July 22, 1934. He joined the FBI in 1926 and arrested Harvey Bailey, an associate of George Kelly nicknamed ‘Machine Gun Kelly.’ Winstead shot Dillinger in the back of the head during an FBI ambush. The FBI director gave him a commendation letter for this act. He was reprimanded by Hoover for insulting a female reporter and demanded an apology, but he opted to resign in 1943. Winstead was the security chief in charge at
Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project when the U.S. Army was making its first atomic bomb.

8. William Mark Felt, Sr. 

William Mark Felt, Sr.
William Mark Felt, Sr.

William Mark Felt, Sr., better known as Mark Felt and nicknamed Deep Throat, was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, U.S. on August 17, 1913 and died in Santa Rosa, California, U.S. on December 18, 2008 at the age of 95 years. He joined the FBI as an agent in 1942 and retired from it as Associate Director in 1973. After the death of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover on May 2, 1972, Mark Felt became Associate Director. During the investigation of the Watergate scandal, Felt provided sensitive information to the Washington Post reporter Woodword. This information ultimately caused the resignation of  U.S. President Richard M. Nixon in 1974. In 1980, Felt was convicted of a felony and was ordered to pay a $7,000 fine, but President Ronald Reagan pardoned him during his appeal.

9. Joanne Pierce Misko

Joanne Pierce Misko
Joanne Pierce Misko

Joanne Pierce Misko was the daughter of a police officer and was raised in Niagara Falls, New York. After graduation she taught in the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Buffalo, New York. She met an FBI agent who visited the convent for recruiting. Physical training was difficult with the FBI for her, and shooting a .38 revolver also gave her a tough time. Along with her roommate Susan Roley Malone, she was one of the first two female FBI agents. She worked as an FBI agent for 22 years.

10. Susan Roley Malone

 Susan Roley Malone
Susan Roley Malone

Susan Roley Malone was one of the first two women to enter the FBI Training Academy at Quantico, Virginia on July 17, 1972. After her graduation in 1969, she was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps and served in California and Norfolk. After the death of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, FBI agent positions were opened for women. Malone’s military training helped her during her firing range and stamina drills with the FBI. She recalled, ‘The FBI takes you from zero. They wanted you to learn the FBI way, so the instruction was very rigorous. We went through all the physical training with our classmates and were held to those same FBI standards.’ Having served with the FBI for seven years, she left it and rejoined the Marines to work for the Defense Criminal Investigative Services.


Destruction very often paves the way to construction, and devastation caused by security lapses, when reviewed realistically, help strengthen the security of the country. The Department of Homeland Security, after the 9/11 attacks, has emerged as a stronger institution with a unity of purpose to protect the U.S. from attacks from outside and from within through the better synchronized and coordinated efforts of many different security agencies. The random killing sprees occurring in the United States reflect upon the  many opportunities for improvement in homeland security.

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