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John Van Kuren “Scarsdale Jack” Newkirk
American Volunteer Group (AVG) 2nd Squadron

Background
John Van Kuren Newkirk was born October 13, 1913 in New York City. He grew up in Scarsdale, Westchester County in New York and his first job was working as a copy boy at the New York Times. Newkirk enlisted in the U.S. Army and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the infantry and served for three years. Afterwards, Newkirk enlisted in the U.S. Navy (USN) and attended flight school, earned his wings and was commissioned with the rank of ensign then assigned to USS Yorktown (CV-5) as a carrier pilot.

Wartime History
During 1941, at age 27, he resigned his commission and joined the American Volunteer Group (AVG) "Flying Tigers" as a pilot leading the 2nd Squadron "Panda Bears". Nicknamed "Scarsdale Jack" for his hometown or simply "Scarsdale". He served as a squadron leader flying combat missions over China, Burma and Thailand. During January 1942 he claimed a total of seven aerial victories against Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) fighters and bombers.

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Mission History
On March 24, 1942 in the morning took off piloting P-40B Warhawk P-8196 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).

Wreckage
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.

Memorials
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."

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Aerial Victory Claims
Newkirk was officially credited with seven aerial victories between January 3, 1942 to January 23, 1942 and became an "ace" with a total of seven aerial victory claims.

Victory Date Location Aircraft Notes on claim
1 01/03/42   Ki-27 First aerial victory claim.
2 01/03/42   Ki-27 Second aerial victory claim.
3 01/20/42   Ki-27 Third aerial victory claim.
4 01/20/42   Ki-27 Fourth aerial victory claim.
5 01/23/42   Ki-21 Fifth aerial victory claim, became an "ace".
6 01/23/42   Ki-27 Sixth aerial victory claim.
7 01/23/42   Ki-27 Seventh aerial victory claim.

References
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II does not list the aerial victory claims of John Van Kuren Newkirk or the American Volunteer Group (AVG).
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