Tarheel Photographer

photographer“The Tar Heel Photographer” F. Carl Chambers

To know where my passion for photography comes from you would first have to understand my father. My father was someone you could really look up to. He was always giving back to our country, to the communities and surrounding areas where he lived. He touched many lives in his 72 years and his legacy lives on in his children and grandchildren.

My Dad grew up in Caswell County NC. He attended Madison High School and he had worked as a photographer at Sears in Greensboro and WSJS Television station. After joining the Army, he was dubbed by the local newspaper as the “Tarheel Photographer”

PFC. Carlyle Chambers was a specialist in the Army in 1951 stationed at Ft. Campbell Kentucky, he also went on to graduate from parachute Army Jump School at Ft. Benning, GA in May of 1951.

Following that he was assigned as a Division Photographer for the 11th Airborne Division and had participated in many Airborne Demonstrations by taking pictures for the local newspapers as well as for the army. He was sent to various parts of the states to cover Airborne Demonstrations such as Operation “Snow Fall” in January 1952 which was carried out by the 11th Airborne at Camp Drum. NY. He was also sent to cover the 82 Airborne Divisions from Ft. Bragg, NC which was participating in “Ex Snow Storm”, a joint Army Training Exercise carried on in the upmost part of New York State.

After his arrival at Camp Drum in late January, he had made many outstanding photographs of the 82nd Airborne, which had been published in local newspapers as well as the New York Times. Finishing up his job in March, he was awarded by officials of Ex Snow Storm.

After his Army career, my Dad met my mother at a roller skating rink in Danville VA. Dad was also a skate instructor and swept my mother Nancy right off her skates! Soon after they married they moved to Williamsport PA where my Dad would start his Photography business “Chambers Photographers”

Dad was an amazing photographer and always on the cutting edge of technology. He had a large territory in PA and NY as a School Photographer and he took pride in his work. This is evident by the smiles in all the yearbooks. He also maintained a studio in Williamsport and an office in Harrisburg, PA.

Photography was not his only passion. He and my mother always had a big heart and stayed involved in the community. When there was an emergency they were always there to lend a hand. They were both members of the local Civil Air Patrol Post 617, Dad was a pilot and Mom was the first female ambulance driver.

Dad was honored for outstanding service during the flood of 1972, caused by Tropical Storm Agnes. Dad received his award for photographing and compiling a slide presentation on the devastation of the floods caused by Agnes. The narrated Slide Presentation had been seen throughout the United States on television and through personal presentations to organization, including the Pentagon briefing and at the National Civil Defense headquarters. The slide presentation had been seen throughout the eastern United States. Dad was also promoted to Captain of the Civil Air Patrol. There are two copies of the slides from Agnes:-, one at the Pentagon and the other he left his children.

Dad was a private pilot and we always enjoyed flying with him, flying wasn’t always for our enjoyment. He used the plane for aerial photography during Agnes, and to drop supplies in areas where vehicles couldn’t reach. He was often called on in emergency to fly and he was always up for the challenge, including – flying a sick baby to Geisinger Medical Center from Williamsport, PA.

Another memorable time that made the news in late October of 72, Dad was called to fly to Pittsburgh where he would pick up a supply of blood. The blood he was to carry was needed for a 20 year old leukemia patient at the Williamsport Hospital. On this emergency flight he found himself in an emergency of his own. When the navigational equipment on his plane became inoperative.

Because the altitude at which he was flying was amidst heavy clouds, use of generator powered navigational equipment was necessary to remain on course.

Trouble was noticed when the electronic signal powering the navigational equipment was getting weaker. The plane was near Philipsburg at this time. The radio also generator powered, was becoming weaker and because of the thick clouds all around he had no visual contact with the ground.

Not only was he unsure of where he was because of the clouds, but he had no idea of any other aircraft that may be around him.

He decided to climb to 8000 ft. which would be above the cloud cover. The Federal Aviation Administration Officials in Cleveland declared an emergency.

His plane was sighted near Franklin by a DC-6 air cargo plane, which had been alerted through FFA communications. The DC-6 led him to Erie, where a hole in the cloud cover made visual contact with the ground possible. The landing gear was extended manually, because of the lost generator power and made a successful landing in Erie PA.

Dad went with the Bradford CAP plane to Pittsburgh to pick up the blood, but that would not IMG_0030be the end of the problems.

On the approach to Williamsport Lycoming County Airport with the blood, again the plane lost part of its navigational equipment. Because of foggy conditions it was decided to fly on to Avoca, near Wilkes Barre and transport the blood back to Williamsport via state police.

With all the problems he faced, Dad never became discourage and pushed on to complete this life saving task, the blood made it to the hospital.

My father worked very hard for his family, country and communities. I am very proud of all of his accomplishments and these are only a few. As hard as he worked he also played hard with his children. Being a school photographer offered him 3 months out of the year to take his family to Smith Mountain Lake, VA every summer. He had us all on water skis at a young age. We also enjoyed going back to his hometown to visit our Grandmother in Caswell Count, NC. His sister Elizabeth, brother-in-law and niece and nephew still live there.

Memories I will always treasure! F. Carl Chambers 7-28-31 ~ 11-22-03

Lisa Chambers McCall

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