GRANBURY (CBSDFW.COM) – FBI Agents are expected to keep secrets. Harold Sundavahl kept some of his for more than 70 years.
Only now, half a dozen years after his death, have some of them have come to light.
Neva Sundvahl Cruz, who lives in Granbury, knew her father worked for the FBI from 1941 to 1945 under J. Edgar Hoover.
She remembers living in Tulsa at the time and her father having to work out of Washington, D. C. and South America. “His cover was that he was supposed to be looking for movie sets from Hollywood,” she said.
“He truly was with other agents supposed to be looking at the waterways, looking for infiltration of the country to make sure the country was safe from South America,” she said. “I have found the passports and everything to verify that,” she added.
There was other evidence: signed portraits, plaques and letters.
But Neva says, her father never talked about his work. He couldn’t.
Once he became an FBI Agent – he was sworn to secrecy for 30 years.
“So, 30 years. And, he was a staunch Swede. He was not going to say a word before the 30th year. So in 1975 he finally would talk and tell me things,” Neva said.
But, he didn’t tell her everything.
There has been renewed interest and curiosity in the controversial, former FBI Director since the release of the movie ‘J. Edgar’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Hoover is portrayed as a man who knew many secrets while concealing those of his own.
Neva said whatever peculiarities Hoover may have had, it would not have bothered her father at all. “It would be something that would be of no importance. He’d just say, ‘Look, no one’s perfect.”
Hoover served eight presidents. He is credited with clamping down on organized crime and ramping up crime fighting technology like the implementation of a nationwide fingerprint data base.
Neva says her father considered Hoover a genius. “Just had Hoover on a pedestal,” she said.
“J. Edgar even looked like my father, or my father looked like him. They had the same wavy hair and very clean cut and meticulous in their ways of doing things,” she said.
Neva, who saw ‘J. Edgar’ the movie immediately connected with the DiCaprio’s portrayal.
“I just felt so good when I went to the movie. I thought there it is. It just felt like my father was there. It was cool,” she said.
Which is why she became excited when, recently looking through her father’s old medical records, she uncovered a stash of letters to her father from J. Edgar Hoover. “I was just flipping through them one morning and was just thrilled to have found those,” she said.
There was a telegram from 1941 from the FBI offering her father a job as a Special Agent for $3,200 a year.
“If you accept. You pretty much pay your own transportation,” Neva said.
There were promotion letters. “It seemed to me, he got a $300 pay raise per year for several years that he was in the FBI. Not a lot of money these days,” Neva laughed.
There was also a letter written on J. Edgar Hoover’s personal stationary commending her father for his role in foiling a plot to blow up a cement plant.
“Dear Mr. Sundvahl:
Mr. Soucy has advised me of the particularly difficult conditions to which you were subjected in maintaining the plant which resulted in the apprehension of James Gibson Trenary on January 9, 1942, at Security, Maryland.
Your conduct under these unfavorable circumstances was in line with the best traditions of this bureau and I desire to personally commend you on the successful accomplishment of your objective.
J. Edgar Hoover
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