Clifton “Skip” Hungerford just missed heading off to war.
By the time he was trained as a combat ready soldier, the Korean Conflict had come to an end. It was 1953, and Hungerford said he wasn’t sorry to have missed out on the fighting overseas.
Hungerford, 86, of Montoursville, instead spent his two years in the U.S. Army as a military policeman, or MP, and photographer.
Stationed briefly at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, he spent most of his military service at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
As a military policeman, he patrolled the Army base and the city of Fayetteville.
In the mid-1950s, Jim Crow Laws and racial segregation were alive and well in the South.
“We had to break up racial incidents,” he said.
The MP’s, he said, would work in pairs — one black and white military policeman.
It wasn’t the easiest of duties, he recalled.
“You never knew what you were going to get into,” he said.
His duty also involved responding to fights or other situations at bars or other locales. Hungerford eventually got re-assigned to less dangerous duty as a battalion photographer.
His father had been a photographer in Bloomsburg, where he grew up, and he’d done work for him.
The duty suited Hungerford just fine.
“I photographed parades and things like that,” he said. “I spent a lot of time in the photo lab. It was like a hobby shop they had there. I felt fortunate to do that duty.”
He wasn’t keen, he said, about taking pictures at accident scenes and other tragic events. He spent a lot of time at places such as nearby Pope Air Force Base, photographing such action as men parachuting from airplanes.
One day would prove quite memorable for Hungerford.
While driving a jeep back to his base, he picked up three officers who needed a ride in an area set up as a simulated combat zone.
“I ran into a foxhole,” he said.
Hungerford, just a corporal, asked the three men who outranked him to help push his Jeep out of the ditch.
Luckily, he escaped any trouble from superiors for his reckless act.
“I was just driving along and wasn’t paying attention,” he recalled.
In the last months of his military duty, Hungerford was assigned to highway patrol.
“We patrolled highways around Fort Bragg. We would catch speeders and sometimes drunk drivers,” he said.
Upon his release from the military, he returned to his civilian job at Weis Markets and helped his father at his photography studio.
He spent much of his
working life managing the Weis Market in the Garden View area of Williamsport.
He also worked for Montour Auto and as a salesman for Susquehanna Paper, a janitorial supply company.
He met his first wife, Lois J., a nurse at Geisinger Medical Center, when she came to his father’s studio to be photographed with other nurses.
They were married for 52 years and raised four children.
After her death, Hungerford married his second wife, Lois A.
These days, he spends his time playing in community bands and is active with a local Korean War Veterans group.
He said he looks back on his time in the military with pride.