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|Chinese Air Force
J. Taylan Sept 7, 2012
|Pilot John Van Kuren "Scarsdale Jack" Newkirk (MIA / KIA, BR) Scarsdale, NY
Crashed March 24, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Manufacture number 15968. Delivered as P-40B Warhawk. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number AM515. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled. Assigned Nationalist Chinese Air Force (ROCAF) serial number P-8196.
Assigned to the American Volunteer Group (AVG) "Flying Tigers", 2nd Squadron "Panda Bears" with fuselage number 34. No known nickname or nose art.
On March 24, 1942 in the morning took off piloted by John Van Kuren "Scarsdale" Newkirk leading the formation of four P-40s from the 2nd Squadron on a strafing mission against Chiang Mai, following the main railroad line in search of targets to strafe. Over Lamphun, anti-aircraft guns opened fire. This P-40 was hit while diving and Newkirk was killed in the crash near Lamphun roughly 26 kilometers south of Chiang Mai. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also hit by anti-aircraft fire lost was P-40B Warhawk P-8115 pilot William "Mac" McGarry (POW, survived).
Afterwards, Newkirk was buried at the crash site. Afterwards, the wreckage was collected by Thai people and transported to the Lamphun police station and later to Chiang Mai. Postwar, Newkirk's remains were recovered and transported back to the United States.
On May 11, 1949 interred at the St. James the Less Episcopal Church in Scarsdale, NY at the Newkirk family plot, reads: "John Van Kuren Newkirk, Squadron Leader, American Volunteer Group, Born October 15, 1913, "Until I have done all in my power I shall not return", Killed In Action over Thailand, March 24, 1942"
Newkirk is also memorialized on the AVG Memorial at Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery with his name on a black pedestal in English and Thai "Those who defeated the Japanese in Burma, Thailand and China... Jack Newkirk".
Newkirk has a bust in China atop a pedestal that reads in Chinese and English: "John Newkirk (? –1942) A member of the AVG Flying Tigers. With a dozen of victories [sic seven victories], he was awarded the Order of Blue Sky and White Sun Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross of the US. On March 24, 1942, he died in the attack at a Japanese fleet [sic rail road] near Chaing Mai in Thailand."
Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942 (2016) by Dan Ford includes this loss
Warbird Forum - Jack Newkirk killed in Thailand, March 1942 (photos)
Warbird Forum - Jack Newkirk crash site (photomap)
Warbird Forum - Mac McGarry, Down In Thailand
Warbird Forum - Remains by Daniel Ford
FindAGrave - ENS John Van Kuren “Scarsdale Jack” Newkirk (photos, grave photo)
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March 24, 2021
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