HUBBS, DONALD RICHARD
Name: Donald Richard Hubbs Rank/Branch: O5/US Navy Unit: Air Antisubmarine Squadron 23, USS Yorktown Date of Birth: 19 February 1926 (Riverton NJ) Home City of Record: Palmyra NJ Date of Loss: 17 March 1968 Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water Loss Coordinates: 191759N 1062269E (XG453344) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 5 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: S2E Refno: 1091
Other Personnel in Incident: Lee D. Benson; Thomas D. Barber; Randall J. Nightingale (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2003.
REMARKS: LOST O/W - SEARCH FAILED - J
SYNOPSIS: Cdr. Donald R. Hubbs (pilot); LtJg. Lee D. Benson (co-pilot); AX2 Randall J. Nightingale (Antisubmarine Warfare Technician 2nd Class); and ADR Thomas D. Barber (crewman) comprised the crew of an S2E aircraft assigned to Air Antisubmarine Squadron 23 aboard the USS YORKTOWN.
As submarine action in Vietnam was virtually (if not completely) unknown, a wide variety of activities were conducted by Anti-submarine units in Vietnam. Because Anti-submarine warfare involves the use of magnetic detection gear or acoustic buoys in conjunction with "listening" devices, anti-submarine aircraft and their crews' training proved especially adaptable to reconnaissance and tracking missions.
On March 17, 1968, Hubbs and his crew launched from the YORKTOWN on a night surveillance mission over the North Vietnam coast in the area of Vinh. Weather was bad with zero visibility. Approximately one hour after launch, the aircraft reported radar problems. No other transmissions were heard, and the aircraft disappeared from the ship's radar scope. All efforts to make contact were unsuccessful. However, five hours after the last contact, radio signals were heard, and North Vietnamese fishing boats were spotted in the area the next day. The last point of contact occurred about 30 miles off the shore of North Vietnam about 25 miles east southeast of the island of Hon Me.
On July 2O, 1968 a section of the starboard wing was found. During the period of July through September 1973 an overwater/at-sea casualty resolution operation was conducted to determine the feasibility and desirability of such water loses. These operations were terminated when it was determined to be unfeasible and nonproductive in such cases. Commander Hubbs and the rest of his crew are still carried in the status of Presumed Dead/Remains nonrecoverable.
When considering a personnel loss at sea, the criteria for survival involves both the location and the cause of the loss. In the case of the S2E, no reason for loss was ever determined. Therefore, it was either shot down or went down due to mechanical or weather difficulties.
If mechanical difficulties resulted in the downing of the S2E, in an entirely non-hostile environment, then there can be little chance of survival for the crew of the S2E unless they managed to cross 25 miles of ocean. If enemy activity was present, however, there can be ample room for speculation that the crew might have been captured by one of the fishing boats in the area.
The crew of the S2E is among nearly 3000 Americans who remained prisoner, missing, or otherwise unaccounted for at the end of the Vietnam war. Since that time, cases have been resolved by the return of remains and by other means. Since the end of the war, over 10,000 reports relating to these Americans have been received by the U.S. Government, convincing many authorities that hundreds of Americans remain alive in enemy hands today.
Whether the crew of the S2E survived to be captured can only be speculated. It would be kinder to them and to their families if they died on March 17, 1968. It is impossible to imagine the agony they must feel to have been abandoned by their country. It is heartbreaking to consider that Americans still await rescue by the country they proudly served.
I just wanted to pass along to you all that an unfortunate, and untimely death occurred on Valentines Day, 1999. Mrs. Bereth Hubbs passed away. She is the mother of Jill Hubbs and wife of unaccounted for POW, Donald R Hubbs. Please find it in your hearts to say a small prayer for this family. Bereth left this world, without knowing what happened to Donald. May God hold her in His hands and give her peace.
God Bless you all.
Subject: 35 Years Ago Today Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 12:58:06 -0500 From: Jill Hubbs <Jill_Hubbs@WSRE.pbs.org>
March 17, 1968. Thirty-five years ago today, my father, Navy Cdr. Donald Richard Hubbs, and his three crewmates were lost when their S-2 aircraft disappeared off the coast of Vietnam. I have spent all day thinking about my father -and his three crewmates - especially as the United States is about to enter into another war.
I have a picture of my father and his crew, taken beside the S-2 just before they left on their mission. My father was 42 years old. I'm older now than he was when he was lost. His crewmates were all young men - barely in their twenties. Their young faces look like the young faces we see on the news every night - young men and women - Americans - who are putting their lives on the line as America goes to war.
I support our troops. I just hope we know what we are doing. I wish I understood the urgency to go to war now. I was always taught to support the President - and I want to and I do - but I am worried about where this war will lead us and what the price of this war will be. All of those lives lost and destroyed - families forever changed - will be the cost of the war. And like Vietnam, there is an undertone of "why exactly are we fighting this war?"
I expressed thoughts like that yesterday with friends and was overheard by someone who then proceeded to scream at me and tell me I didn't know what I was talking about.
To that person, I quietly responded that yes, I know exactly what I am talking about. Thirty-five years ago my father and his three crewmates were lost. What exactly did they die for? And thirty-five years later, we still don't know what happened to my father or his crewmates. We never had a funeral. We have never had a memorial service. We just kept waiting for him to come home and he never did. I told that person that I know personally about the cost of war. War cost me my father and forever changed my life and the lives of my family. The Vietnam War is long over - but it is still a part of my life. It hasn't ended for my family.
I had tears streaming down my face as I finished saying this to the person who had screamed at me. He got really quiet and said no more.
I received a packet of papers from the Department of Defense last week. I had requested an update on my father's status and what they were doing to recover remains or information. The papers I received are just like all the ones I have received during the last 35 years - some details, lots of double-talk, key information blacked out - no answers. We have bits and pieces of information but not enough to find out the truth or to know what really happened. A live sighting report. A grave registration. Dog tags found from one of the crewmates. Old Vietnamese documents. It is a frustrating, excruciating, painful never-ending ordeal. No one really understands.
I just hate to see it happen all over again to a whole new generation of American soldiers and their families. I hope the veterans will understand how I'm feeling and why. It's a difficult day today, remembering my father and his crewmates. I will go down to the Wall South, here in Pensacola, and leave some flowers by my father's name. The names of his crewmates are etched in the granite right there near his name. They all died serving their country - and I believe that the United States is the greatest country in the world. They believed it too. I am proud of my father and his crewmates and all of the other thousands who died in Vietnam - and the thousands and thousands of others who served and returned home. They are all heroes.
I just don't want to have to visit another memorial with thousands of names from this war.
Will you share this with our veteran buddies?
BThanks.... Jill Hubbs