John “Woody” Grange served in WWII as a pilot in the 417th. He passed away in 2003, but prior to that, John was interviewed by his nephew about his experience with the 417th and the war. John’s nephew got in touch with me recently and provided me with access to the video story he created from the interview.
To watch the interview, go to the Video Stories page, or click on the link below which will bring you directly to the interview on You Tube.
Another visitor to this site contacted me with some historical information on one of the 417th members, Thaddeus C. Kulpinski. I got in touch with the reader and he provided me a copy of a Christmas Greeting card that Thaddeus sent to his parents.
Thaddeus, “Ted”, Kulpinski was an RO and an original member of the 417th NFS. Here he is in a group photo of the original members…
…And a shot of him from when he was in prep school prior to the war.
Hello readers – I’ve been away on holiday for a bit and while I was away, I received a request from a reader who is looking to contact any relatives of Clarence K Fuller. Clarence died in action on 1/20/1944 and was part of the 417th Night Fighter group.
If you can help, please drop me an email via the contacts page on this website and I will put you in touch with the person who made the inquiry.
Found two more gems in my father’s collection of Night Fighter memories. He saved two “memory books”, one each from the 1994 WWII Night Fighters Convention in Norfolk, VA and the 2000 convention in Salt Lake City. Both books contained photos of each attendee, spouses, group squadron photos and general photos of the activities at the convention. I’ve posted both of these memory books in two new galleries under Photo and Videos Gallery Menu or you can click on this link:
It is with great sadness that I am announcing the passing of another 417th NFS member, Earl “Sleepy” Hissett. He died on Thursday, January 10th, 2019. His funeral was held on January 12th. He is survived by his lovely wife Jo.
Earl was a member of the original 417th squadron. He was a mechanic and worked on the Beaufighter and P-61 engines. Rumor has it that he lied about his age so that he could join the war at the tender age of 16.
Earl tells a bit of his story on this video from the 2007 417th NFS reunion in Reading PA. Fittingly, he is standing in front of one of the P-61s that he worked on. In this video you will also hear the story behind his nickname “Sleepy”.
As far as I am aware, Earl was the last living member of the 417th and while his passing means the end of an era, I will do my best to continue to honor his service and those of his colleagues thru this website. Rest in Peace Sleepy.
Yes, it has been awhile since I last posted an update on this site. On this, the 1 year anniversary of my father’s passing, I decided that the best thing I could do to honor him is to go thru the many 417th items I brought home with me and build a few new updates on the website.
I chose to start with the Reunion photos. Keeping the 417th NFS alive in people’s memories was more than a hobby for my dad. It was a passion. He and my mother put in countless hours organizing the reunions. It was hard work but they loved every minute of it. The photos and other memorabilia from the reunions are a testament to this. I hope you will find a grandparent, parent, or fond friend somewhere in these photos and I hope it brings you joy even if they are no longer with us. It certainly did this for me.
My father, Richard Ziebart (417th NFS), passed away peacefully on Wednesday afternoon, Jan 10th, and his wife, Lorraine, joined him today. As sad as their passing is, I am happy that they were able to join each other in the last chapter of their journey.
I’m sure there’s a 417th NFS reunion being planned in heaven as I write this.
It is with a heavy heart that I writing to notify the followers of this website, particularly members of the 417th NFS family, that my father, to whom I dedicated this site, is in ill health and will likely be going into his Lord’s arms very soon. Your thoughts and prayers for a peaceful journey on this, his last flight are welcome.
Sorry to have been out of touch for so long. I was prompted to write a new post by a friend who forwarded an interesting note about the P-61. Here is a quote from the Smithsonian Article on the 75th Anniversary of the P-61’s first test flight.
“75 Years Ago Today: The prototype Northrop P-61 Black Widow (XP-61) made its first flight with test pilot Vance Breese at the controls. The P-61 Black Widow was the first U.S. aircraft designed to locate and destroy enemy aircraft at night and in bad weather, which was made possible by the use of onboard radar. See our Black Widow, a P-61C-1-NO, on display at our Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA”
You can see photos of the P-61 on display at thislink.
Another noteworthy event this past May is my Father’s 91st birthday. Richard Ziebart is a member of the 417th NFS and still loves and wears his Night Fighter t-shirts & caps. He continues to share his love for the P-61 and all things Night Fighter related to this day. He’s a wonderful spokesperson for the group. Here’s a photo of him working on one of the squadron’s planes:
And here is a photo of him celebrating his 91st with his wife Lorraine
On a closing note, I hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. And please feel free to drop me a note if you have any ideas about additional topics related to the Night Fighters or the 417th that you would like to see posted here.
The Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine has published an article titled “Beware the Black Widow” in the August 2016 edition of the magazine. It tells the story behind the birth of the Northrup P-61. You can pick up a printed copy of the magazine or read the article on the web at this link: Beware the Black Widow..
The August edition of the magazine also carries a story about the Foo Fighter phenomena. You can read the article on the web at this link: