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6:58 PM Thu, Sept. 20th

Prescott man served as B-17 gunner during WWII, Korean War

Cliff Hunt of Prescott was a gunner on a B-17 bomber in World War II, flying more than 50 missions over Germany, and later served in a psychology unit during the Korean War. (Jason Wheeler/The Daily Courier)

Cliff Hunt of Prescott was a gunner on a B-17 bomber in World War II, flying more than 50 missions over Germany, and later served in a psychology unit during the Korean War. (Jason Wheeler/The Daily Courier)

Prescott resident Cliff Hunt served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and with the National Guard during the Korean War, doing two very different jobs for both conflicts. Finishing his service as a technical sergeant, Hunt was part of a B-17 crew for the former and served in a hospital during the latter.

Hunt was drafted into the Army in what he remembered to be either 1943 or 1944, despite having tried to enlist in the other branches previously.

"I tried to get into the Marines, the Navy and the Coast Guard, but I have a hole in my head I got when I was a Boy Scout, so they all turned me down," Hunt said. "So then they drafted me into the Army on limited service."

During World War II, Hunt was stationed at a town in England called Eye as part of the U.S. Army's 8th Air Force. Hunt was a gunner and engineer behind the pilot, copilot and top-turret gunner on the B-17 Flying Fortress.

Hunt flew 35 missions, but three really stand out, Hunt said. One was when he and the crew were attacked by the first German rocket fighter aircraft, the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet. Neither he nor the crew knew it existed, Hunt said.

"We got hit on that day by this rocket aircraft," Hunt said. "We didn't know anything about it. When I got back that day and they briefed us on it, they didn't know anything about it either. It was a new development that the Germans had made."

There was also the time a parachute saved his life in an unusual way, Hunt said. After landing, he discovered a large piece of flak that had gone into his parachute and stopped. If it had gone through, his whole back would have been wiped out, he said. Hunt used to carry the flak with him, but lost it some time ago, he said.

There was also the time when the B-17 pilot had him take control of the aircraft, Hunt said. He flew over Germany for about five minutes.

Between the end of World War II and the beginning of the Korean War, Hunt used his GI Bill to get a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Southern California. While at USC, he joined the National Guard.

"It was nationalized in the Korean War, so I got called in," Hunt said, noting since he had a degree in psychology, he was needed in what was Camp Kilmer. "I got transferred from the National Guard, which went over to Korea. I stayed stateside and was in a psychology unit at this hospital. We were in a psychiatric wing and we did psychological testing for the psychiatrists."

Hunt left military service in what he remembers to be 1951 or 1952 and became a school psychologist for children from kindergarten to junior high.

Hunt has and Air Medal with five clusters for the missions he was on, though he noted he doesn't wear them all that often.

And, having been around for the shift from the U.S. Army Air Forces to the U.S. Air Force, Hunt said he sees a vast difference between the two. However, he said he's "proud of the whole thing."

Follow the reporter Jason Wheeler on Twitter @PrescottWheels. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2037 or at 928-642-5277.