An early-morning telephone call to Jill Hunting's family in November 1965 brought the devastating news that her older brother had been killed in Vietnam. A twenty-four-year-old civilian volunteer with International Voluntary Services (IVS), Pete Hunting had gone to Vietnam directly from college in 1963 to teach English. He had recently begun his second tour with IVS when he was killed in an ambush. Pete's death was widely reported, but the family did not discuss either the incident or the open question of whether the killing was premeditated.
With her Vietnamese interpreter, Jill Hunting places incense sticks at the Mekong Delta site where her brother was killed (2006).
In 2003 Jill's work as a writer and editor led her to a writing retreat in Italy. While there, she resolved to turn to the central story of her heart and imagination—a book about her brother's life and death in Vietnam and her quest to understand them. Five months later, Pete's supposedly lost letters surfaced. Jill became the custodian of a trunk containing her brother's vivid, often humorous, eyewitness accounts of Vietnam in the early days of American intervention there. The trunk also contained eloquent sympathy letters from Pete's friends and strangers around the world, along with photos of the family with then Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, in whose office at the White House the Huntings received a medal awarded posthumously to Pete.
In 1991, Jill visited Vietnam for the first time, hoping to see the windmills her brother designed and a library built in his memory. She returned in 2006 to discuss with province officials her proposal for a sister-city relationship with Sonoma, California.
She proposed the Book of Remembrance, a sculpture honoring civilians killed in war, for the new headquarters of the United States Institute of Peace, on the northwest corner of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Jill majored in American Studies at Wheaton College (Massachusetts) and has a master's degree in Values.