Lindbergh, Charles Augustus

´╗┐Lindbergh, Charles Augustus

Charles Augustus Lindbergh was the first person to cross the Atlantic in a nonstop flight. This made him an instant celebrity. When, in 1932, his 19-months old son was kidnapped and murdered, the nation was appalled.

Finally, a German carpenter, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, was apprehended and, following a much-publicized trial, executed.

The police chief who arrested Bruno Richard Hauptmann was the father of Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the American forces in the Gulf War in 1991.

The affair had many repercussions, both personal and national.

The Lindberghs, revolted by the media’s unrelenting prying, moved to live in Europe in 1935. Lindbergh became a fan of Adolf Hitler and in 1938 received from him a decoration for having praised the German Luftwaffe as superior to all other air forces. In 1939, upon his return to the USA, Lindbergh embarked on a cross-country tour of antiwar and pro-Nazi speeches. Consequently, he was ousted from the air corps reserve and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

Still, when war broke out, Lindbergh served as a civilian consultant to aircraft manufacturers. Later, the US Army sent him on clandestine missions to the Pacific and Europe. But he never regained his stature in the eyes of the American public.

He won the Pulitzer prize in 1953 for his tome, The Spirit of Saint Louis and died in 1974 in Hawaii.

The kidnapping and gruesome murder of his son prompted lawmakers to pass the Lindbergh Act in 1932. The Encarta: “The statute made it a federal crime, punishable by life imprisonment, to kidnap a person and transport that person to another state. This law was amended in 1934 making conspiracy to commit a kidnapping also a federal crime. In 1968 the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated that section of the Lindbergh Act that gave the jury the power to recommend the death penalty for kidnapping.”