Dubs was born in Chicago, Illinois, on August 4, 1920. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. In 1978 he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. On February 14, 1979, he was kidnapped by armed men who were asking for the release of some prisoners. A few hours later an exchange of gunfire started between the kidnappers and the Afghan security forces, and the ambassador was killed. Following this incident, the U.S. stopped having diplomatic contacts in Afghanistan.