Jay W. Hubbard – Brigadier General, United States Marine Corps

Jay W. Hubbard was born San Francisco, California, 16 June 1922; enlisted in Marine Corps out of Compton Jr College 20 August 1940; commissioned as infantry officer 2 November 1942; retired 1 December 1972.


From Private to sergeant on battleship Mississippi 1940-42 in Pacific, Caribbean and North Atlantic. As infantry lieutenant during WW II, served as a platoon leader in 2d Marine Raider Battalion on Bougainville operation, then as platoon leader in Weapons Company, 4th Marine Regiment for Emirau and Guam operations ant company executive officer in Okinawa campaign.

U.S. Navy flight training 1946-47, then to a Marine Fighter Squadron, VMF-222, at MCAS Cherry Point, NC for two years. In Korea, 1951-52, executive officer VMF-312 “Checkerboards” flying F4U Corsairs out of K-18 (Kangnung). Commands included fighter squadrons VMF-235 (FJ-2's), Atsugi, Japan 1954-55 and VMF-232 (FJ-4's) MCAS Kaneohe Bay, HI, 1956-58; RTD Memphis 1958-60; Marine Aircraft Group-12 (A4's) at expeditionary airfield, ChuLai, Vietnam 1966-67; and Commanding General 4th Marine Aircraft Wing and Marine Air Reserve Training 1970-72. 165 combat missions & 4,090 + hours as fighter-attack pilot.

Principal staff assignments: At Hqtrs Marine Corps, Aviation Monitor, Detail Branch, Personnel Dept 1952-54 and Asst Secty General Staff 1962-65; G-1 FMFPAC (Hawaii) 1967-68; and as Marine Corps Director of Information !968-70.

Graduate of USAF Command & Staff College 1951; Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School Senior Course 1962; The National War College 1966; BS Univ of Nebraska at Omaha, 1961 and MS International Affairs, The George Washington University 1966.

After retirement: Appointed Director of Police, Memphis, TN, 1972-75. Entered home-building industry with Presley of SoCal 1976, VP in 1977. Left in 1978 and formed own company to build custom homes for several years in Orange County, CA. During 1985-89, served as consultant and interim CEO/C00 for companies in Chapter 11 reorganization. In 1989, joined a volunteer group to charter MCAS E1 Toro Historical Foundation to support development of a Marine Corps Aviation museum aboard MCAS E1 Toro. Chaired the foundation 1989-94.

Life member of: Marine Corps Aviation Assn (Nat'l Commander 1975-76); Assn of Naval Aviation; “Golden Eagles”; Air Force Assn: Daedalians; Navy League of U.S.; Marine Raider Assn; 6th Marine Division Assn: VFW; and Retired Officer's Assn.

Personal military awards are: Silver Star, Legion of Merit (four awards), Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal (twelve awards), Navy Commendation Medal with combat “V”, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star, Combat Action Ribbon and the Purple Heart.

From a contemporary press reports:


Retired Brigadier General Jay W. Hubbard, former Commanding General of the 4th Marine Air Wing and a custom home builder in Orange County, California, has died. He was 80.

Hubbard died of cancer January 1, 2003, in Laguna Niguel, California. A memorial service is scheduled next week.

Hubbard served 32 years in the Marine Corps, beginning his career as a private and infantryman and retiring as a commanding general after flying 165 combat missions over Korea and Vietnam.

He grew up in Huntington Park and enlisted in 1940 after attending what was then Compton Junior College. He served aboard the battleship Mississippi as an enlisted man before being commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1942 and assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion. Hubbard fought as an infantryman in several Pacific island battles during World War II.

After the war, he completed flight training and piloted fighters for the next 25 years and in two wars until his retirement. His combat awards include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Combat Action Ribbon and Purple Heart.

Hubbard served as Director of Police in Memphis until 1975; in 1978, he formed his own company and built custom homes in Orange County for several years. He is perhaps best known locally as the moving force behind the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro Historical Foundation, which created an air museum at the old base.

The Marine Corps named the museum the Jay W. Hubbard Aviation Museum. The museum and its contents were moved to the Miramar Marine air base in San Diego when the El Toro base closed.

Hubbard is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Dorla; children Clint Hubbard of Coto de Caza, Brad Hubbard of Trabuco Canyon, Glenn Hubbard of Irvine and Diana Carr of Fairfax, Virginia; and 12 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Chapel of the Marine Corps Air Station at the Miramar base. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation, P.O. Box 45316, San Diego, CA 92145-0316.

A private ceremony will be held later at Arlington National Cemetery.

Hubbard, city's top cop in '70s, had ‘can-do spirit'
January 21, 2003

Jay W. Hubbard was a career military man who fought in three wars and labored to modernize the Memphis Police Department as the city's top cop in the 1970s.

Mr. Hubbard, a pilot and retired Brigadier General with 32 years in the Marine Corps, died of cancer January 1, 2003, in Laguna Niguel, California. He was 80.

“He had an impeccable character, limitless courage and a wonderful personality,” said retired Lieutenant General William Thrash, who served with General Hubbard during the Korean War.

“When there was a particularly tough mission, he would put himself on the schedule (for flight missions),” Thrash said. “I never saw a greater can-do spirit.”

After retiring from the military, General Hubbard was asked in the early '70s by Memphis Mayor Wyeth Chandler to stabilize and modernize the Police Department.

Mr. Hubbard's wife, Dorla Hubbard, recalled Monday that Chandler called and said he needed “a lot of help straightening out” the department.

He came to Memphis as police director in 1972 at a time of unrest, following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and in the aftermath of riots spawned by the beating death of Orange Mound teenager Elton Hayes by police and sheriff's deputies in 1971.

Two months into his job, he decried the lack of black officers in the department and the high number of police brutality complaints.

He created an internal security inspection system and worked to decentralize the department.

“There was a group resisting change, but he was a leatherneck and just went forward,” his wife said. He promised to stay two years, and left in 1975.

Born in San Francisco, Mr. Hubbard enlisted in the Marines at 18, beginning his career as a private and infantryman in the South Pacific in World War II. He retired after flying 165 combat missions over Korea and Vietnam.

He was awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Combat Action Ribbon and Purple Heart.

After he left Memphis, he formed his own company and built custom homes in Southern California. His passion in later life was creating an aviation museum, now known as the Jay W. Hubbard Aviation Museum at Miramar air base in San Diego.

Along with his wife, Mr. Hubbard is survived by three sons, Clint Hubbard, of Coto de Caza, Calif., Brad Hubbard, of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., and Glenn Hubbard, of Irvine, Calif.; a daughter, Diana Carr, of Fairfax, Va., and 12 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be Friday at the Chapel of the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar. Burial is at Arlington National Cemetery.

The family asks that any memorials be sent to the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation, P.O. Box 45316, San Diego, Calif. 92145-0316.

Memorial Remarks by General Carl E. Mundy, Jr., USMC (Ret)

Around Thanksgiving last year, I called Jay to see how he was doing, to tell him that my wife and I would be coming out for Christmas with our son and his family at Camp Pendleton, and that I looked forward to stopping by for a visit. We talked for a while, and during our conversation, Jay told me that he believed his days were becoming fewer, and he asked that when this day came, I come and say a few words to you. I told him that his request was then — as it is now — one of the greatest privileges I’ve ever been accorded. Jay has long been one of my heroes, and I am greatly honored to have the opportunity to say a few words about him.

At the same time, saying those words is a daunting challenge, because to try and sum up Jay Hubbard in the space of only a few minutes is near impossible.

Moreover, as I look out at this gathering, with so many of you who knew Jay so long and so well … lived with him … worked with him … served and flew with him … skiied … panned for gold … and yes, on those rare occasions …“partied” with him, I find myself wondering why I’m up here. There are many among you better qualified than me to talk about this great man. Fortunately, there will be a couple of others to follow me in doing that.

But back to “Why me?” My first thought is that perhaps it was Jay’s way of assuring that I stay “tight” with the Marine Corps aviation community, which he knew I admire so greatly. Jay is one of the few I ever told that in my early career, I almost became an aviator — until I met up with an unyielding flight surgeon. I was telling Jay this up at El Toro a few years back, and when I finished, he looked at me with that twinkle of a smile he had and said, “Yeah, it’s too bad you couldn’t become a pilot … but at least, they let you be the Commandant!”

In a more serious vein, it may be that Jay knew that his legacy is recorded indelibly in the master log-book of Marine aviation, and that there would be plenty of old flying buddies here to say some words about him. Perhaps he wanted to ensure that some of the words spoken recorded him — more completely –as the essence of what a Marine – regardless of military specialty – is all about.

If you stop to think about it: … a fifth of Jay’s career was spent as a ground Marine; …

something over half the time he spent fighting our nation’s wars was on the ground; …

among the most vicious battles he fought in his three wars were those as a Marine Raider and infantry officer at Bougainville, Emirau,Guam,and Okinawa — some of World War II’s toughest battles.…

and finally, he is one of very few – or maybe of the only two — Marines to have piloted a jet off an aircraft carrier, but only after having first cut his teeth at sea as a corporal and Gun Captain of a 5 inch battery aboard a battleship.

Indeed, in the world’s premiere air-ground team, comprised of “Soldiers of the Sea”, Jay Hubbard could coach any position, on either side of the field.

Many here know Jay’s saga. It has all the flair and episodes to make a great Hollywood movie –and that might ought to be pursued, but with Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott, and John Wayne gone, it would be hard. Somehow, Ben Afleck just doesn’t match my character image of Jay Hubbard!

At age 18, Jay came down from northern California, and with his best – and lifetime – buddy, Les Brown, joined the Marines. They went to boot camp together; graduated at the top of their platoon; qualified for a “cream of the crop” assignment to Sea School and then Sea Duty aboard the battleship MISSISSIPPI; sailed around Iceland in the days just before the outbreak of World War II chasing a German Raider, and got back to the West Coast just after the outset of the war.

The two young sergeants applied for officers’ training together, and while waiting, got their commanding officer’s permission, an extra 15 gallon gas ration, took a long weekend, and eloped in Jay’s 1940 Mercury convertible with their sweethearts, Dorla and Jeannie, to Yuma, where they were married in the same ceremony.

Soon thereafter, and without going to officers’ school, Jay outran his buddy Les, and was commissioned second lieutenant. That would separate them for the remainder of the war, but they would come together again afterward, repeat their joint marriage ceremony, go to flight training together, fulfill their dreams of becoming Marine pilots, and be promoted all the way through brigadier general together.

There’s much more to that wonderful friendship — enough to fill the afternoon — but I only have a few minutes. However, I couldn’t wind it up without relating at least one special episode that characterizes Jay’s fun-loving attitude toward life. After he was commissioned, Jay wound up in a Replacement Draft in New Caledonia awaiting assignment to a unit. While there, he got word that Les Brown, still a sergeant was aboard a transport ship that would be dropping anchor for a couple of days in the port. Jay records that he wrote up a set of orders, signed a made-up name on them, commandeered a boat, and made his way out to the ship. He reported to the Officer of the Deck that he had sealed orders for Sergeant Les Brown and that the mission would necessitate that he be gone from the ship overnight. The Navy OOD bought it and sent for Brown, who reported to Lieutenant Hubbard with several salutes. The two made their way back down the accommodation ladder into the small-boat and to the pier. Once ashore, they proceeded — as Jay colorfully put it — to “get roaring drunk”. The following day, Jay returned Les to the ship, and reported to the OOD: “I just can’t tell you how Sergeant Brown performed; it will be a matter of record!”

I met Jay for the first time when I was a major sitting outside the door to the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps’ office as his aide-de-camp. One day in September, 1968, my door swung open and an officer who looked boyish enough to be, perhaps a major, or at most a lieutenant colonel, stuck out his hand and said, “Hi! I’m Jay Hubbard; the newest boot brigadier general in the Marine Corps, and I need to pay a call on the Assistant Commandant!”

Now, at that stage of my career, the generals I had come to know seemed pretty lofty, and I had certainly never met one who introduced himself by his first name. But this one was different, and that began my “Hubbard watch.”

Jay’s assignment on the Headquarters staff was Director of Information — more simply — the Public Affairs Officer of the Marine Corps. Typically, he took on the job with the notion that even in the hand-wringing, stomach-knotting atmosphere of Washington during the war in Vietnam, a job should be fun. A close friend of mine was a major on Jay’s staff. He related that the general was a man of action, not given to lengthy, monotonous briefings full of inconsequential details. He wanted to know the issue, the alternatives, and a plan of action to resolve it. His technique of training his staff to get through the chaff to the point was to keep a bottle with a Vodka label on it in his desk drawer. After a few minutes, as the staff officer droned on, Jay would pull out the bottle, pour himself a shot in his coffee mug, and down it. If the briefer kept going, he would pour two shots and down them. By that time, the briefer had usually gotten the word! My friend also related that the bottle was always full when Jay pulled it out, so the staff felt sure it was water — but they never asked, and Jay never said!

Among the many great fraternal and supporting organizations of the Marine Corps, the most active, organized, productive, close-knit, and high-moraled, is the Marine Corps Aviation Association. In terms of both purpose and camaraderie, it outshines the others. Jay was one of the pioneers of the MCAA. Indeed, some would give him far more credit than that. In a tribute to him at the Association’s 30th Convention, General J.K. Davis – another of the Corps’ great leaders — noted that when the Association took fledgling form, it had no organization or operating funds, but — in his words — “Enter Brigadier General Jay Hubbard!” Jay, probably more than anyone else, was the driving force that brought this great organization into being and shepherded it through not just its early years, but its entire lifetime to date. The Association reflects his character, and is a living memorial to his love of aviation.

General Hubbard mustered out of the Corps in 1972, but as his friend, Colonel Tom O’Hara, put it so well: “Jay never retired from the Marine Corps; he was merely released from active duty.”

Like with the MCAA, when a decision was made some years ago to create a West Coast Marine Corps Aviation Museum, again, “enter Jay Hubbard”. He became its Chairman, first at El Toro and now here at Miramar, and pushed its evolution with the same determination, untiring energy, and inspirational leadership that marked the way he went about everything he undertook.

Yes, Jay Hubbard accomplished a lot. However, like those truly great men in history who are remembered not so much for what they did as for who they were, Jay’s forte lay in his skills with and concern for people. I’ve known many leaders who could inspire and who were held in varying degrees of esteem and affection by those they led, but I've known only a couple whose people downright loved them, and Jay Hubbard was one of those.

The most revered title for an officer of Marines is not colonel or general or even commandant. Those are titles of rank, or position, bestowed by the institution. In our Corps, the greatest titular tribute that can be bestowed is given by those who serve under an officer. It isn’t bestowed formally or officially; it can’t be bestowed by a senior; and you don’t wear anything different when it comes to you. The title is “Skipper”, and it is bestowed only through the individual respect and affection of those you lead.

I was privileged to be on hand at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola year before last when the “Red Devils” of VMF-232 –circa 1957 –arranged to have an FJ-4 “Fury” which Jay and some of them had flown in the squadron 44 years earlier painted with their squadron markings and unveiled and dedicated to Jay at a Squadron reunion. It was a tremendous affair, and a tribute that obviously meant a great deal to him. Thirty-eight of the forty-two pilots who served in the squadron while Jay was in command attended, as well as his Plane Captain, PFC Jim Howard. The affection for Jay was palpable … but I was most struck by the fact that while one or two may have called him “Jay”, no one spoke of “the general” or “the CO”. Almost to the man, they referred to him only as “the Skipper”. Forty-four years later, with a bunch of mid-60’s and 70 year olds, and Jay was still their “Skipper” — as he is with many here today, and as the moving piece by Don Macaulay –one of his “Red Devils” — which each of you has, attests so meaningfully.

I was on hand for an equally– if not more — moving testimonial of this sort a month ago – the day after Christmas — when I visited Jay in the hospital in Laguna Niguel. He was heavily sedated, and in effect, “out of it”. Along with a host of other family and friends, Bob Johnson –another of his “Red Devils” — had flown in from Florida. When I went in to visit, Bob was there, holding Jay’s hand and saying periodically, “Come on, Skipper … wake up … you can make it”, as though he were a wingman encouraging his wounded leader in for a smooth landing. When I left an hour later, Bob was still there, hand in hand: “Come on, Skipper.”

Jay Hubbard was a “Skipper” to far more people than he likely ever realized. His devotion to those of all walks — but especially Marines — his support to them in times of need, his positive leadership and uplifting character, attitude, and humor were all defining characteristics of this great man. Describing him to me, Colonel Eleanor Wilson – another stalwart of the MCAA — said: “It’s as though Jay was everybody’s Commanding Officer. All of those things a good CO would do for those he leads is what Jay did for everybody!”

And so, we come to say farewell to a fine man, a devoted and loving husband, father, and grandfather, a “Skipper”, and one of the most magnificent Marines ever to have worn our uniform. I, for one, am tremendously grateful to our Maker that he gives America men the likes of Jay Hubbard; that Jay chose to become a United States Marine; and that I had the privilege of knowing and admiring him, and calling him “friend.”

             Semper Fidelis, Jay.
—- CEM —



  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 11/30/1940 – 11/30/1972
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/16/1922
  • DATE OF DEATH: 01/01/2003
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 04/24/2003

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