LeRoy Blair



    I was assigned to the 417th as a  Crew Chief in July 0f 1966.  At that time they were flying F-100 Super Sabre's and were located at Ramstein AB, Germany.  Six months after I arrived, the 100's were replaced with brand new F-4D  Phantoms . 
        .The goal of this site is to connect as many former "Red Dorks" as I can, and to display photographs from them.  So, I am counting on visitors to send me photograhs via an e-mail attachment, or even hard copies that I can scan and return, or connect with me so we can figure a way to get those picture up.  I am sure there are many pictures, from any era, stuck away somewhere, that would make a wonderful collection.
And Please......send me some short stories about your time with the 417th, whatever that timeframe was.  In my era, 66 - 68, we are gettin old and  those stories are worth remembering, are worth recording, a story of the times nobody hears too much about.  As funny as it sounds, its History .  
Thanks    Terry L. Johnson    AND PLEASE.....dont forget to sign the guestbook

      For information about a 417th Air Force Reunion 
in Charleston, SC in September of 2012
contact Ron Yarno at      onraws@verizon.net     






Established in February 1943 as the 417th Night Fighter Squadron, assigned to the 481st Night Fighter Operational Training Group, Orlando Air Base, Florida for training. The 417th was the first USAAF dedicated night fighter squadron formed. Trained in the Douglas P-70, a modified A-20 Havoc bomber using a U.S. version of the British Mk IV radar. At the time the P-70 was the only American night fighter available.

Reassigned to Ninth Air Force in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), May 1943 and equipped with RAF Bristol Beaufighters through a "reverse Lend-Lease" program until an American aircraft could be produced. Upon arrival in England the squadron received additional training with Royal Air Force night fighter units at several bases in early 1943 achieving the first victory on July 24. Through the summer, they conducted daytime convoy escort and strike missions, but thereafter flew primarily at night.

Was reassigned to Twelfth Air Force, being deployed to Algeria in August 1943. Carried out defensive night patrols over Allied held territory during the North African campaign, also conducted night interdiction raids on German positions in Algeria and Tunisia. After German collapse in North Africa, continued defensive patrols and offensive night attacks on Axis positions on Sardinia, Corsica, and in Southern France.

Moved to Belgium, operating from bases in the Low Countries, and moving into northern Germany in early 1944. Was re-equipped with United States P-61 Black Widows during the last months of the war, flying night interdictory missions within Germany until V-E Day.

Remained in Germany after the war as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe. Performed occupation duty for over a year, returning to the United States and inactivating in November 1946

Cold War

Reactivated at Clovis AFB, New Mexico in 1953 at a Fighter Bomber Squadron, initially receiving F-51 Mustangs. Upgraded to new F-86 Sabres, and was deployed to NATO, being stationed at the new Hahn Air Base, West Germany in August 1953. The aircraft was deployed to Hahn during Operation Fox Able 20. This marked the first mass flight of an entire tactical wing from the U.S. to continental Europe.

At Hahn AB the unti's mission was the delivery of tactical nuclear weapons against Warsaw Pact forces in the event of an invasion of Western Europe. Its secondary missions were tactical air defense and support for NATO ground forces. Due to the vulnerability of West Germany to Soviet attack, USAF planners did not want their tactical nuclear weapons in locations that could be quickly overrun by Warsaw Pact forces. When construction was completed at Toul-Rosières Air Base France, the squadron was moved there in July 1956. Disagreements arose concerning atomic storage and custody issues within NATO, resulted in a decision to remove United States Air Force atomic-capable units from French soil. The squadron was moved back to Hahn Air Base in December 1959. Remained in West Germany as a Tactical Fighter Squadron, equipped with the F-100 Super Sabre until 1966, upgrading to the F-4D Phantom II in 1967.

Was returned to the Mt. Home AFB, Idaho, being reassigned to Tactical Air Command as part of a drawdown of forces in West Germany in the summer of 1968. Deploying to NATO several times during Reforger Exercises in West Germany. Reassigned to Holloman AFB, New Mexico in 1970 and re-equipped with F-4E Phantom IIs.

On 4 May 1972, after North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam, the squadron deployed to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Engaged in combat operations in Southeast Asia from May–September 1972, to help blunt a strong North Vietnamese offensive. Flew combat sorties in South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos during Operation Linebacker, the bombardment campaign in North Vietnam. During five months of combat, the squadron did not lose any aircraft or personnel The unit officially closed out its Southwest Asia duty 6 October 1972 and returned to Holloman AFB. Remained at Holloman until 30 April 1977 when inactivated with its host wing converted to the F-15 Eagle with new squadrons.

Reactivated on 1 October 1978 as part of the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Zweibrücken AB, West Germany. The squadron was activated with a single F-4D aircraft. USAFE planned on equipping the squadron with F-4Es, however, inadequate munitions storage at Zweibrücken compelled the command to reverse its decision and consequently reassigned the 417th TFS without personnel or equipment to the 86th TFW at Ramstein AB on 1 November 1978, being placed in not operational status. Never made operational at Ramstein, the squadron designation was inactivated on 15 September 1987.

Activated at Tonopah Test Range Airport, Nevada, in October 1989. Was reassigned F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighters from the 4450th Tactical Group 4453rd Test and Evaluation Squadron (Z-Unit). Also operated T-38s for pilot transition training (LIFT) to the F-117. Upon reassignment of F-117As to Holloman AFB in 1993, squadron transferred F-117s to 49th Fighter Wing 7th FS and inactivated.