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Former Jacksonville teacher still looks for clues about MIA dad | Voices of Bravery, Vietnam

Jill Hubbs taught at Crown Point Elementary in Duval. She talks about why she is still searching for clues about her MIA dad, now some 50 years after the war.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — "People say you need to give up"  says Jill Hubbs. "Let it go. But my answer is that you don't understand unless you've been there."

Hubbs was a teacher at Crown Point Elementary in Jacksonville. 

She says she's not going to quit looking for clues about what happened to her dad during the Vietnam War.  

"I love my dad," she says, and "it's important to me to know what happened."

Hubbs has a recording of her dad's voice saying, "I'm honored to take command of the world-famous Black Cats."  

Her father was proud of his mission in Vietnam. But in 1968. Commander Donald Hubb's S2 disappeared over Vinh, south of Hanoi.

At first there appeared to be evidence he could be alive. There was a short film clip of prisoners tending a garden and one bending over looked like her dad.  

"He had the same hairline," Hubbs says.

Credit: Jill's father, Donald Hubbs

Hubbs took a trip to Vietnam in 1993 to search for clues.  She took pictures and sketches around Hanoi and just asked people if they have seen her father.

"He has scars here and here and here."

But nothing turned up.  

She even went to Vietnam museums and looked through boxes of helmets and dog tags.

Credit: Hubbs in Vinh near where her dad disappeared

Now, decades later, her dad is most likely not alive. He'd be 96. And after the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, the POWs set free did not report ever seeing her father, Donald Hubbs, in any POW camp.

Her father is honored at the USS Yorktown because his S2 flew off that aircraft carrier. Hubbs went to visit the memorial.  She crawled inside to sit in the cockpit, and she realized something else.

"There were no ejection seats," she says. It is another reason she thinks he may not have survived when his plane went down.

Credit: Jill Hubbs family montage

Hubbs has done extensive work with the other MIA sons and daughters. 

She has helped unite the now-grown children to share stories and support each other. In fact, she produced a film called "They Were Our Fathers."  

As a Gold Star daughter, Hubbs says some 20,000 American children lost their dads in Vietnam.

Hubbs is also on a mission to urge the federal government to step up its search efforts to find pieces of downed planes and remains of military personnel in Vietnam.

Twice she's been at the White House and talked face-to-face to Presidents Obama and Biden. She told them, "I'd like some answers. I want an underwater search."

Credit: Jill Hubbs at the White House

She says DNA technology is already identifying fragments of teeth and bones for some MIA families. 

She knows from radar and radio transmissions the exact spot in the Gulf of Tonkin her dad's plane was last heard from when he disappeared.

On another trip to Vietnam, she made a wreath with her dad's photo on it and took it to that exact spot.

"I said a little prayer. I put it in the water and let it go," Hubbs says. 

But she isn't going to let go her quest to discover more information about her father, "my fishing buddy."

Credit: Jill Hubbs laying of wreath at Gulf of Tonkin

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