JACK NEWKIRK OF THE FLYING TIGERS


AKA: SCARSDALE JACK


the Wanderling

When I was a kid growing up one of my most favorite books, that is a real book, i.e., a hard back not comic books, circulated around the exploits of the A.V.G., the American Volunteer Group, or as they were more affectionately known the Flying Tigers. The book was written by a woman named Olga Greenlaw, the wife of Harvey Greenlaw, the second in command of the A.V.G. The title of the book, published in 1943, was The Lady and the Tigers. One day two or three years after the war I came across a copy of Greenlaw's book amongst a bunch of other books that belonged to my Stepmother. I had removed it from the shelves of her library and she in turn loaned it to me, a personal hand signed copy after she saw my interest in it. I originally just wanted to do no more than just look at the pictures, but then I started reading it after which I could hardly set it down. Eventually I read it over-and-over, almost to the point of the book becoming a bible or handbook on the Flying Tigers for most of my formative years. In the book Greenlaw wrote something I, as a not yet 10 year old boy never forgot, re the following as found in The Lady and the Tigers, pages 308-309:


"I wonder what happened to him --- probably a prisoner. But the Chinese scouts found a body in the same location or thereabouts where Black Mac bailed out when Jack Newkirk got killed --- in March.

"The body was unrecognizable, as there was nothing left, the ants had eaten all the flesh, but the uniform the bones were covered with was an A.V.G. flying suit with the insignia still on it."


Planes being shot out of the sky, pilots being killed, cities and airfields being bombed --- that all seemed fairly feasible in war to me. But ants! You might imagine what I, as a young boy thought of when I first read about the jungle ants gnawing the flesh completely clean right off the pilot's skeleton leaving nothing but bare bones laying inside the flight suit, all the internal organs gone. Some image. However, childhood images to grown man or not, my main purpose here is to bring to light how the passages Greenlaw wrote regarding the ants that I remember so well, also makes references to two people, both of whom were pilots with the Flying Tigers. One she calls Black Mac, whose real name was William McGarry, with the other being one Jack Kirkland, known as Scarsdale Jack. She also makes reference to Scarsdale Jack's death in the line of duty, of which is delved into in the illustrated sections of the page below as well as in Footnote [1].

As for McGarry, it should be noted that prior to the time Greenlaw's book was actually published word came through concerning McGarry's fate, again who she calls Black Mac. At the bottom of page 308 in her book the following blip was inserted: "Since this was written, it has been officially announced that W.D. McGarry is a prisoner of the Japanese." More about McGarry can be found on my Phyllis Davis page, the two of us, that is, she and I, ending up in Thailand together, with me, a few days before leaving Thailand, visiting the Tango Squadron Museum at the Air Force Base situated on the opposite side of the entrance to the Chiang Mai Airport. There, on display I was able to view firsthand the remains of McGarry's P-40 as it looked when it was hauled back to the museum after pancaking into the jungle floor in 1942 and laying there undisturbed for 50 years.(see)


JACK NEWKIRK, VERSION ONE: ZIP COMICS NO. 28 AUGUST 1942







JACK NEWKIRK, VERSION TWO: WINGS COMIC NO. 24 AUGUST 1942



The photo below showing several men dressed in khaki military-like garb sitting in a jeep in front of a Flying Tiger adorned P-40 is from an article published in Life Magazine dated March 30, 1942, Vol. 12, No. 13. I cite the same article in my page on Flying Tigers and use the photo as the opening graphic at the top of the page for THE BOY AND HIS JEEP: Adventures In The Desert. It just so happens the man sitting on the shotgun side is Jack Newkirk.



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While people like Gen. Claire L. Chennault and his men were waging real life battles against the Japanese in their far-flung air war over China and Burma, facing nothing but superior odds with their P-40 Flying Tigers, and Gen. Joseph Stilwell was doing the best he could in the malaria ridden jungles of Southeast Asia with his outnumbered and ill-equipped ground troops against the more powerfully equipped Japanese forces, others back at home in the United States in a groundswell of patriotism, were urging them ever onward with what little they had. Meanwhile America's war machine was ever increasingly gearing-up, expanding with bottom-line assurances of being delivered expediently and in full strength.




Part of that groundswell of patriotism was being driven at the bottom by other than battlefield combatants, regular people, as well as movie, radio, and comic book heroes all trying to shine a light of hope during an otherwise dismal time. I've cited many examples in my works of the era, and although totally minor in the overall scheme of things, added together they breathed hope with small drip-by-drips into the hearts and minds and souls of many of those at home and abroad. The illustrated contents of this page done in comic book style you are reading right now is just one example of those attempts by people on the home front trying to buoy the spirits of an America caught in tough times. There were of course, many hundreds that could be cited, but two of which I've chosen to exemplify find the heroes, both females, switched from their usual habitat in Europe fighting Germans to fighting Japanese in Asia, more specifically connecting up with the Flying Tigers in the air war over Burma and China. They would be the red haired firebrand and spy Jane Martin, War Nurse and the more demure, albeit female airborne commando, Pat Parker, War Nurse.


P-40 WARHAWK
PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR

P-40 GOOSE SHOOT


GHOST AND HAUNTED B-29


P-40 FIGHTER PILOT DAN ROWAN


JACK NEWKIRK'S CRASH AT LAMPHUN


CURTISS P-40: THE OBSOLETE WAR HERO


CLAIRE CHENNAULT AND HIS FLYING TIGERS


THE TANGO SQUADRON AIR MUSEUM, CHIANG MAI



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SO, DID THE WANDERLING FLY?

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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.

















Footnote [1]

On March 24, 1942 two groups of A.V.G. pilots, one from the 1st Squadron and another composed of pilots of the 2nd Squadron, took off toward Chiang Mai with a plan for one group to hit the Japanese held Chiang Mai airfield while the other group was to attack a smaller field at Lampang. Jack Newkirk's group flew south looking for Japanese aircraft at Lampang and finding it empty began hitting nearby targets of opportunity. Although there is some dispute as to what actually happened, it is said Newkirk, while coming in low began strafing a column of Japanese armored vehicles and was hit by groundfire. His P-40, in a possible attempt at a hard landing hit the ground at a high rate of speed, ripping off a wing. All reports indicate he was killed instantly. The town of Lamphun where Newkirk crashed is located south of Chiang Mai on the way to Lampang.




The dispute surrounding Newkirk's attack and eventual death circulates around the possibility that he was straffing a basically non-military target composed of nothing more that ox carts carrying rice. However, pilots on the scene state he was shooting at armored vehicles that in turn fired on him:


"(Three) pilots in Newkirk's flight believed they had seen armored vehicles. Keeton identified what he saw as a weapon's carrier. Frank Lawlor thought it was an armored car. Henry M. Gesselbracht, Newkirk's wingman, wrote in his combat report: 'The two vehicles we fired at, I believe, were armored cars. They were camouflage brown and squarish in appearance. I believe at least one was destroyed.' That was probably what Newkirk thought he saw. He would have no reason to fire on an oxcart."(source)


Pretty much in substantiation of the above by providing a similar view the following is found on the Japan in Northwest Thailand during World War II website:


"Newkirk, having been fired on by an anti-aircraft (AA) battery at the Ban Tha Lo railroad bridge, proceed to circle to make a run on the bridge to return fire and neutralize the AA battery. He would have planned to approach the AA battery as low as possible in order to get below the vertical range of those guns. During that run, as he was completing his turn to line up on the bridge, he was distracted by a 'target of opportunity,' just momentarily, but long enough so that he could not react in time to avoid a flame tree --- if he even saw it at all."(source)




In the meantime, during the 1st Squadron's ensuing battle over Chiang Mai, William McGarry's P-40 was struck by groundfire and began trailing smoke. He bailed out with his plane slamming into the jungle miles away leaving nothing but a pile of crumpled metal and miscellaneous pieces of P-40 junk as graphically illustrated in the photo below:




McGARRY'S SMASHED P-40 FLYING TIGER AFTER 50 YEARS IN A THAILAND JUNGLE
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THE TANGO SQUADRON AIR MUSEUM, CHIANG MAI


THE FLYING TIGERS BOMB HANOI: 1942


COL. ROBERT L SCOTT, JR.


PHYLLIS DAVIS



















COLONEL HARVEY GREENLAW:

A few years after graduating from high school but before being drafted, a buddy and I went on road trip throughout Mexico. We bought a 1951 Chevy panel truck we fixed up like a camper and drove down the Baja peninsula crossing by ferry to the mainland from Santa Rosalia, eventually going as far as the Yucatan before turning back toward the states. During the trip, which is fully outlined at the link cited after the quote below, I sought out Colonel Greenlaw who was living in Baja Mexico at the time. Even though where he lived was a rather remote area, it was fairly convenient because our route took us almost right past his place. A little detour and we were there. To wit:




"After leaving Ensenada we continued south on some pretty crummy roads eventually turning eastward across the peninsula to the little town of Santa Rosalia, taking a ferry across the Sea of Cortez to Guaymas. On the road south just before it turns more eastward across the peninsula to Santa Rosalia we turned on Highway 18 not far from Guerrero Negro as I wanted to catch up with a man I hoped to meet who was said to live at a place called El Arco. The man was Colonel Harvey Greenlaw, the onetime second in command of the infamous Flying Tigers of World War II fame. I had read his wife's book Lady and the Tigers (1943) and heard somewhere along the way that Greenlaw lived there. Since I was close by and most likely would never be back I made it a point to look him up, spending a couple of days."

THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB


Two years later I was working as crew on the marlin boat come yacht of the multi-millionaire heir to the Halliburton oil fortune, David J. Halliburton Sr. On the way back from Cabo San Lucas I talked the skipper into pulling into Scammon's Lagoon not far from Guerrero Negro for a quick dirt bike trip over to Greenlaw's place in El Arco. However, except for a housekeeper who didn't know where he was and didn't know when he would be back, the place was empty, my trip to see him too no avail.

Greenlaw, who was born November 14, 1897 in Wisconsin, died January 10, 1982 in Baja California, Mexico after residing in Baja for almost all of his post Flying Tigers life. See:


COL. HARVEY GREENLAW


NOTE: The opening quote at the top of this footnote shows up as a footnote in Of Cobras, Scarabs, Maseratis, and Zen except I make reference to some of the conversation between Greenlaw and myself.(see)


THE WANDERLING: OF OLGA, FIREHAIR, AND A WHOLE
BUNCH OF OTHER EARLY INFATUATION EXPERIENCES!


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