Jump to content

AVG Group to John E. Petach Jr. and Emma Jane “Red” Petach

Recommended Posts

Here is a group of items that belonged to John E. Petach, Jr and his wife Emma Jane “Red” Petach Hanks. I had a very interesting time learning about all of these items and could never have identified them without the help and expert advice from Ron Burkey of Flying Tiger Antiques. Thanks Ron! All of these items were originally bought at an estate sale in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania in the 1980’s. The entire story of how they were identified can be found in the “Real or What?” forum under “AVG Flying Tiger Pin”. It is an interesting story. http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/227962-avg-flying-tiger-pin/


John E. Petach, Jr. was born July 15, 1918. In 1939 he received a degree in chemical engineering from New York University. Upon graduation, he applied to U.S. Navy for admittance to their aviation program. John was accepted and received his flight training at Pensacola Naval Pilot School. He flew various Naval aircraft and was assigned to a Scout Bomber Squadron, VS42 aboard the USS Ranger. In 1941 Petach joined the American Volunteer Group or AVG to fly for China. He flew P40-E fighters and shot down three Japanese bombers on January 23, 1942. On July 4, 1942, the AVG passed out of existence when the Army Air Force took over the job with its 23rd fighter group. Almost all of the original flying Tigers returned home but some were needed to stay behind to help train the newly formed 23rd. Petach was asked to stay. He was going to return home with the girl he recently married, one of the two AVG nurses, Emma Jane “Red” Foster Petach. On July 10, 1942 he went on a mission and on a dive bombing run, he was hit by ground fire, his ship went down and he was killed. Emma Jane Foster from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, a Penn State graduate, was the only RN to serve in China with the AVG. On February 16, 1942, she and Pete Petach were married by AVG Chaplain Paul Frillman, with the blessing of Claire Chennault, in Kunming, China. . After his death, his wife, Emma Jane Petach, returned to her hometown of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Bellefonte was where these items were bought at an estate sale in the 1980’s. The silver cigarette case was made by Marathon and was a birthday present that “Jane” could never give to “Pete” since he died five days before his birthday. The monogram on the front is a “P” and the inscription reads:


Happy Birthday

Love, Jane

July 15, 1942

All of the AVG items were found in the Cigarette case.











Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Best wishes, Dick. We're working on some pictures, etc to find ones with better resolution. Glad that you and Dan, Uncle Johnnie's nephew, ( my husband) connected. Dan is still lecturing on the AVG and Uncle Johnnie to colleges, book clubs, etc. As you know, last summer we met in Washington, DC & NY with a delegation of fabulous people from China. What an exhibit they brought with them. We added our own momentos. Hope to talk soon...Sincerely, Carole Petach www.johnniepetachavg.com has been updated again.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.