The Church of Scientology has long claimed that founder L. Ron Hubbard won two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and 19 other combat medals in WWII. The fact is that L. Ron Hubbard never served one day in combat, never fought in combat, and was most certainly never wounded in combat.
Fact: L. Ron Hubbard worked as a self-employed typewriter jockey cranking out pulp fiction for a penny a word until he went active duty US Navy on 22 Sept 1941. Then 32 years of age, Hubbard received a commission as a lieutenant jg and did not go through Officer’s Training School or any type of combat or weapons training. In particular, Hubbard had no amphibious warfare or jungle survival training. Hubbard’s first job on active duty was to review and annotate the hydrographic surveys of Puget Sound he had sent to the US Navy ten years earlier. Hubbard was not a combat soldier and had no special background training, no special skills, and only spoke English.
Despite Hubbard’s lack of qualifications or training in Intelligence, one of the Church of Scientology’s long-term propaganda projects has been to quietly perpetuate L. Ron Hubbard’s bogus claim that he was a secret agent with the Office of Naval Intelligence. The fact is L. Ron Hubbard was a low-level cable censor in the department of Naval Intelligence for a few months and then served in various other assignments.
From where do Hubbard’s claims to have been a spy originate?
They come from Hubbard’s 8-10 week deployment to Australia in 1941/1942.
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Australia and Java were in desperate need of fighter airplanes. The US sent 105 fighter aircraft and millions of rounds of ammunition to Brisbane aboard the USS President Polk (AP 103). Hubbard was shipped from the US to Brisbane, Australia on December 19, 1941 aboard the Polk with the aircraft and other troops.
The USS President Polk arrived into Brisbane on Polk Jan 12, 1942.
His superiors quickly found Hubbard to be meddlesome; garrulous; self-important; and to have exceeded his authority. Hubbard was ordered back to the States by the US Naval Attache:
In a typically cockamamie Hubbard story with more holes in it than a sieve, Hubbard later told Lt. Thomas Moulton, his credulous Navy subordinate, that he, Hubbard, had been a spy for US Naval Intelligence during his time in Australia. See: Testimony of Thomas S. Moulton in Church of Scientology v. Armstrong, May 21, 1984.
In the wild-eyed confabulation Hubbard related to Moulton, Hubbard claims that during his time in Brisbane he was secretly dropped by raft onto Java by the aged four-stack destroyer USS Edsall (DD-219) with orders to spy on the Japanese. In this story, “Hubbard the Spy” is discovered and pursued by Japanese soldiers who machine-gun him in the back.
The machine-gunned Hubbard then jumps into a raft with a fellow spy and escapes into the open ocean. Adrift at sea for a week with no rations or water, Hubbard has himself rescued by an unnamed Allied destroyer 50-75 miles off the coast of Australia. Jon Atack covers this in Chapter Four of the online version of A Piece of Blue Sky. Atack’s updated A Piece of Blue Sky is a must read for any serious Scientology watcher.
The actual timeline does not give Hubbard much time to be shipped 2022 miles from Brisbane to Java to spy on the Japanese, be machine-gunned, and then float for a week on the open ocean in a raft:
- Hubbard arrives in Brisbane on Polk Jan 12, 1942.
- Hubbard is attached to the US Naval Attache in Brisbane.
- Hubbard makes himself busy meddling and is ordered returned to the US on February 14, 1942.
- Hubbard is shipped home and arrives in San Francisco on March 23, 1942.
In context, how is anyone to believe that a militarily-untrained pulp fiction writer, a man who has only been active duty for five months, was landed in the middle of a war zone on Java at the risk of the USS Edsall and its crew? Also left unexplained by Hubbard and the Church of Scientology is why the Allied forces would waste fuel to transport Hubbard 2022 miles into a war zone when he had no skills they needed. The Allied forces on Java were already providing intel on Japanese dispositions and had a network of radio-equipped embedded indigenous spies.
Always an expert at turning his prosaic failures into epic triumphs, Hubbard told everyone in the 1950’s that he was a nuclear physicist. The Church perpetuated this lie through the 1990’s. The truth is more mundane: Hubbard flunked out of college after two years of D’s and F’s.
While Hubbard received an F in nuclear physics — “atomic and molecular phenomena” — he nevertheless used this one college course in 1932 as his basis to claim that he was a nuclear physicist as in Dr. Hubbard with a Ph.D. Although there is absolutely no science in Scientology, the Church of Scientology claimed in its 2015 Super Bowl television ad that Scientology somehow involves nuclear physics:
As he had done with an F in nuclear physics, Hubbard spun his failure in Brisbane into being a spy who was grievously wounded in a crucial covert operation. Hubbard even claimed that he was the first casualty of the South Pacific war and was returned to the US in the Secretary of the Navy’s private plane. The implication here was that Hubbard was so super-important to the American war effort that he had to be rushed home in the Secretary of the Navy’s private plane. Some Hubbard apologists have even suggested the wounded Hubbard was couriering secret documents and this explains the airplane ride. A more likely alternate theory is that the US Naval Attache, exasperated with complaints about Hubbard, personally ordered and placed the obnoxious red-headed nuisance onto a flying boat to ensure Hubbard left Australia. If so, it would not be the last time Hubbard was thrown out of either a port or a country.
Interestingly, no records have been found to date documenting how Hubbard was returned to the US. Hubbard was assigned to the USS Chaumont in one set of orders and the M/S Pennant in another set of orders; however his name does not appear on the passenger lists of either ship. Hubbard apologists argue that this somehow proves Hubbard’s tale that he was important enough to have been flown home in the Secretary of the Navy’s private plane.
If Hubbard flew home, another scenario is that he falsified some orders — “wriggled the paperwork” — to get a ride back to the US aboard the Pan Am Philippine Clipper via Honolulu. If so, Hubbard did this at the expense of a wounded soldier, a senior commander, or someone else who needed the space on the aircraft more than Hubbard. As Hubbard himself said of the matter in 1956:
“I was flown in from the South Pacific as the first casualty to be
shipped out of the South Pacific war back to the States. The war had
been started in Pearl Harbor, and I’d been down in the South Pacific and – a lot of things happened down there. And the outfits down there were pretty well wiped out, as you can remember before the US and Great Britain started to fight and go back in. All right.
“Most of the guys that were shipped out of there who had been wounded, were shipped out by slow boat. And I didn’t, I wasn’t that seriously done in. I hooked a ride on the Secretary of Navy’s plane; produced the right set of orders (I hope nobody ever kept them on file) and got flown home. And when I got home, they turned me in to the hospital.” — Hubbard, L. Ron (1956-02-07). The Game of Life (Exteriorization and Havingness). Los Angeles, CA: Golden Era Productions.
Hubbard was in Brisbane 8-10 weeks and was returned to US Naval medical facilities in San Francisco with “acute catarrhal fever” and actinic conjunctivitis. Hubbard would later variously claim that his actinic conjunctivitis was caused by:
- Standing too close to a gun on a ship when it was fired. This is the “flash burn” claim.
- The week he spent floating in a life raft at sea.
- The bright sunlight of the Southern Hemisphere.
We can reject the first two claims outright.
While the third claim has some merit, one new possibility I am offering here is that Hubbard actually had influenza compounded by viral conjunctivitis unrelated to sunlight exposure.
Hubbard may have gotten both “catarrhal fever” and pink eye from the unsanitary living conditions and pit latrines that were hastily erected when 4,000+ American soldiers landed with the Pensacola Convoy in December 22, 1941. Camp Ascot was quickly set up at horse racing track in Brisbane to accommodate this sudden influx of troops. The sanitation was rudimentary. A 1944 US Navy medical study documented a widespread misdiagnosis of “catarrhal fever” occurring at a “large West Coast naval dispensary” in this time frame:
The reason I cite this particular study is to rebut the conclusions at scientologymyths.com. The conclusions at that blog range from the speculative to the outlandish. Scientologymyths.com, for example, argues in a non sequitur fashion that Hubbard’s conjunctivitis tends to support his claim that he was adrift at sea for a week after being machine-gunned on Java and escaping into the open sea. This is a wild stretch of the imagination given the complete absence of any medical records or other contemporaneous military documentation proving that Hubbard had multiple gunshot wounds, severe dehydration, and sunburned blistered skin one would expect to see in such a scenario. There is no hint or suggestion anywhere in Hubbard’s US Naval records that he was ever shot in combat, let alone machine-gunned. This is because Hubbard never fought in combat.
There is a far more simple and documented possibility: Hubbard got sick and contracted pink eye from living in a crowded tent-camp and using open pit latrines along with 4,000 other soldiers. As the study cited above shows, hundreds of other US Navy personnel became ill in this period and were misdiagnosed with the catch-all “acute catarrhal fever” as the study notes. The contagious spread of bacterial conjunctivitis in military barracks is a well known risk factor.
And additional other risk factor for L. Ron Hubbard contracting catarrhal fever: Hubbard was a heavy smoker who smoked 3-4 packs of cigarettes per day, this according to Jon Atack in A Piece of Blue Sky.
May 1942: Hubbard is treated for actinic conjunctivitis and a sprained ankle. L. Ron Hubbard later would try to try to spin these minor afflictions into war wounds, two Purple Hearts, and a Bronze Star.
Two images from Scientologymyths.com:
1. A record of Hubbard’s hospitalization upon his arrival back into the US on March 23, 1942. Again, no mention of multiple gunshot wounds or Purple Hearts:
2. This second document (below) dated May 11, 1942 presents additional problems:
The second document shows an untrue statement made by Hubbard to a medical doctor in Brooklyn. New York: Hubbard never served as a combat intelligence officer for the US Asiatic Fleet. He couldn’t have because:
A. Hubbard was neither trained as, nor or assigned as, a combat intelligence officer. Hubbard was trained and assigned to be a cable censor.
B. The Asiatic Fleet was formally disbanded on January 27, 1942 — a scant fifteen days after Hubbard’s arrival into Brisbane. During this interval the record shows Hubbard attached to the US Naval Attache and not to the Asiatic Fleet. That Hubbard’s name appears on an CINC Asiatic Fleet dispatch is easily explained by “housekeeping” communications headers having low priority in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. In other words, the Asiatic Fleet continued to exist on paper for some time after it was disbanded. Hence the “CINC Asiatic Fleet” dispatch notation is essentially an artifact.
C. Headquartered in Manila, the Asiatic Fleet retreated to Java when the Philippines fell to the Japanese on December 22, 1941.
D. Hubbard and the Church of Scientology have both tried to shoehorn Hubbard into the final days of the collapsing Asiatic Fleet in an attempt to steal glory and unearned medals for Hubbard.
Hubbard remained a low-level cable censor through June 24, 1942:
Image Source: Scientologymyths.com
Note: Scientologymyths.com takes the position that L. Ron Hubbard was truthful in his WWII claims. The site contains some interesting new documents and speculations for those interested in the subject, but I do not agree with the conclusions stated therein.
L. Ron Hubbard had two very short-lived commands of coastal patrol boats after returning from Australia. In his first command, Hubbard got into an argument with the Superintendent of the ship yard where his assigned vessel was being completed. Hubbard lost that argument and his command before the vessel was even launched.
L. Ron Hubbard’s second command was of coastal patrol vessel PC-815 in Oregon. This is the ship Hubbard used to depth charge an iron ore deposit on the ocean floor in the mistaken belief that it was two Japanese submarines. Hubbard did not get in trouble for being trigger happy. However, shortly thereafter Hubbard fired his deck gun on an inhabited Mexican island. The Mexican government immediately filed a diplomatic complaint and Hubbard was relieved of command.
After being relived of his two commands, Hubbard was thereafter sent from place to place within the Continental US by the Navy. Eventually, Hubbard was sent to a three-month Military Government course held in facilities at Princeton University. The US needed officers to serve in the occupation of Germany and Japan. Hubbard later inflated this three-month course into “intelligence training” and “Princeton University.”
After his stint at Princeton, Hubbard next complains of various maladies and is sent to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital where he malingers for months. After extensive tests Hubbard is found to have a duodenal ulcer. Hubbard himself later stated that he impersonated a medical doctor at Oak Knoll so he could spend his days reading psychology and psychiatric texts in the medical library. The Church of Scientology has memorialized and celebrated Hubbard’s malingering and impersonating a doctor in a Church video. The video was posted by Tony Ortega at the Underground Bunker.
Hubbard and his Church would later be accused many times of practicing medicine without a license.
As WWII is ending, Hubbard’s medical problems subside to such an extent that he leaves Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. Rather than heading north to his wife and two children in Washington State, Hubbard — now financed by a brand new US Navy monthly disability pension — heads south to Pasadena.
Abandoning his wife and two children who are living with relatives, Hubbard pays no child support and instead hitches a small trailer to his car and takes off to Jack Parson’s “free love” boarding house in Pasadena, California.
While there, Hubbard becomes sexually involved with a few women. He eventually steals Jack Parson’s girlfriend Sara Northrup. Parsons outwardly does not seem bothered. However, he does write to Aliester Crowley about Ron and Sara and their Sex Magick.
Parsons apparently wasn’t all that hurt as he engaged in Sex Magick with L. Ron Hubbard. The “Babylon Working” thus took place as Parsons and Hubbard attempted to create a magickal moonchild, i.e. the Antichrist.
Reading the letters from Jack Parsons about what Hubbard and Parsons are up to in terms of Magick, money, and Sara, Aliester Crowley becomes agitated and writes to Karl Germer, the Outer Head of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.):
“Apparently Parsons or Hubbard or somebody is producing a moonchild. I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these louts.”
While Hubbard is busy with Sex Magick, he is also working to to increase his disability pension with the US Government. Astonishingly, the psychiatrist-hating Hubbard takes a break from his philandering, Magick, and acting classes to write to the US Veterans Administration complaining of “suicidal inclinations” and asking for a psychiatric evaluation:
As expert researcher and historian Chris Owen MBE notes at his outstanding website Ron the War Hero:
As recently as 1994, it [The Church of Scientology] has claimed that Hubbard received 29 awards (“The Church of Scientology: 40th Anniversary”, 1994). Hubbard himself claimed 27 medals. In an unsuccessful attempt to obtain from the US Navy the medals to which he believed he was entitled but had not received, he ordered his staff to write to the Navy to request his medals. His claims were detailed in Flag Operations Liaison Memo of May 28, 1974 (the list is considerably different to that circulated by Scientology today):
Navy Commendation Medal with 1 Bronze Star.
Naval Reserve Medal.
Organized Marine Corps Reserve Medal.
(British) The 1939-45 War Medal.
(French) Medaille Commemorative Française 1939-45.
(Netherlands) Bronzen Kruis.
Philippine Defence with 3 Silver Stars.
American Defence Service Medal with 1 Bronze Star.
American Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Stars.
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Stars.
European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (ETO Medal) with 1
WWII Victory Medal.
National Defence Medal.
Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
Navy Expert Rifleman.
Navy Expert Pistol Shot.
L. Ron Hubbard’s actual DD-214 shows that he received four noncombat medals. Source: Ron the War Hero website:
In response to critics exposing Hubbard’s phony claims about his service in WWII, the Church of Scientology produced a phony Hubbard DD-214. Signed by a “Howard D. Thompson” an investigation revealed that an officer by this name did not exist in the US Navy in this period. The Church-supplied DD-214 is most certainly a forgery, according to Chris Owen.
The Church of Scientology offered a note on the fake Hubbard DD-214:
L. Ron Hubbard never commanded a squadron of canoes let alone a squadron of corvettes.
L. Ron Hubbard claimed to have sunk one Japanese Imperial Navy submarine I-76 (renamed the 1-176 in 1942), and crippled or sank an additional submarine, when he commanded the PC-815.
No less an eminence than Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher — a Medal of Honor recipient and the US operational commander at the historic naval battles of the Coral Sea and Midway — investigated the matter and determined that L. Ron Hubbard never sank a Japanese submarine. Admiral Fletcher’s investigation determined that Hubbard had depth-charged a magnetic iron ore deposit on the ocean floor. Hubbard and crew mistakenly read this iron ore deposit on their sonar as two enemy submarines. See Chris Owen’s webspage.
Admiral Fletcher played a major leadership role at Midway where four Japanese carriers were destroyed in two days of battle that broke the back of Japanese naval superiority in the South and Central Pacific. Fletcher knew all about naval battle and ship-killing.
Admiral Fletcher’s judgment on Hubbard is final.
We note that the wealthy Church of Scientology has never funded an oceanographic search for the remains of the I-76 off the coast of Oregon.
We further note that in 1999 a private oceanographic firm found Gus Grissom’s Liberty Bell space capsule under 15,000 feet of ocean:
(CNN) — Almost 38 years to the day since it sank, the Liberty Bell space capsule is now above water, according to a dispatch from a reporter aboard its recovery ship.
The Mercury capsule, flown by astronaut Gus Grissom for 15 minutes in space on July 21, 1961, was hoisted to the surface at 2:15 a.m. Tuesday from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. It was found at a depth of more than 15,000 feet — 3,000 feet deeper than the wreck of the Titanic. Source: CNN
The technical means to find a Volkswagen-sized space capsule under 15,000 feet of water exist. The technical means — and billions of dollars in Scientology money — are available to find a 346 foot long sunken Japanese Kaidai class submarine off the shallow coast of Oregon. Why has such an undertaking not been financed by the Church to prove Hubbard’s claims?
|Class and type:||Kaidai VII (I-176 class)|
|Displacement:||1,630 long tons (1,656 t) surfaced
2,602 long tons (2,644 t) submerged
|Length:||105.5 m (346 ft)|
|Beam:||8.25 m (27.1 ft)|
|Draft:||4.6 m (15 ft)|
After the war, the British Admiralty and the US Navy analysed the captured records of the Japanese navy to account for all of its vessels. Their reports do not list any Japanese submarine losses off the coast of the contiguous United States during the whole of the war. According to military records, the I-76 was destroyed off Buka Island in the western Pacific by USS Franks, USS Haggard and USS Johnston on 16 May 1944. Hubbard’s crew however, who were very loyal to him, shared his conviction that they had engaged an enemy submarine. His second-in-command, Thomas Moulton, later asserted that the Navy had hushed up the incident, fearing that the presence of Japanese submarines so close to the Pacific coast might cause panic.
Hubbard’s claim to fake war medals goes along with his phony claim to be have a Ph.D. in nuclear physics. As Hubbard said in 1952:
“I happen to be a nuclear physicist; I am not a psychologist nor a psychiatrist nor a medical doctor.”[….]
“To some degree, it was my responsibility that this world got itself an atom bomb, because there were only a handful of nuclear physicists in the thirties – only a handful. And we were all beating the desk and saying “How wonderful it will be if we discover atomic fission,” because we decided that the thing to do with atomic fission was to go out and discover the stars, to make big passenger liners that would go ten times around the world on the same fuel. This was what we endeavoured to do with atomic fission. The government stepped in and gave us three billion dollars. I had nothing to do with that program; I would *not* have had anything to do with the program. Three billion dollars to destroy all of man.” Quoted from Dianetics: The Modern Miracle, February 6, 1952. — Also found transcribed in the “Research and Discovery” series, Vol. 3 page 470 and New Tech Volumes. Vol. 5 page 143
A 1961 publication calls him “L. Ron Hubbard, C.E., Ph.D., a nuclear physicist … educated in advanced physics and higher mathematics and also a student of Sigmund Freud and others, [who] began his present researches thirty years ago at George Washington University.” In 1959, another Scientology publication described him as “Doctor Hubbard, American nuclear physicist and leading world authority on the subject of life sources and mental energies and structures.” He told Scientologists in later years that “Nearly all nuclear physicists – atomic and molecular phenomena boys – ‘Buck Rogers Boys’, we were known as … Like so many physicists I wrote science fiction for years, and that was the only remunerative use I made of this material.”
It should be noted that when L. Ron Hubbard died the Coroner fingerprinted and examined his body so conscientiously as to discover ten small hypodermic needle marks on Hubbard’s buttocks. These marks were confirmed by Hubbard’s personal physician as having been hypodermic injections of the psychiatric medication Vistaril. What the Coroner did not see were multiple scars from entry or exit wounds caused by bullet wounds anywhere on Hubbard’s abdomen. The post-mortem examination alone conclusively puts the lie to Hubbard’s stolen valor. Furthermore, none of Hubbard’s US Navy medical records ever show any treatment for bullet wounds of any kind whatsoever. See our report on the death of L. Ron Hubbard and the accompanying the Sheriff-Coroner’s report.
Despite the evidence, L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology continue to tell lies about Hubbard’s WWII service. Even as deadbeat dad L. Ron Hubbard was engaging in the Sex Magick with his pal Jack Parsons, he would later write that he was crippled and blinded at the end of the war. And although Hubbard had abandoned his wife and two children, he claims his family abandoned him:
Blinded with injured optic nerves, and lame with physical injuries to hip and back, at the end of World War II, I faced an almost non-existent future. My service record states: “This officer has no neurotic or psychotic tendencies of any kind whatsoever,” but it also states “permanently disabled physically.”
And so there came a further blow – I was abandoned by family and friends as a supposedly hopeless cripple and a probable burden upon them for the rest of my days. Yet I worked my way back to fitness and strength in less than two years, using only what I knew about Man and his relationship to the universe. I had no one to help me; what I had to know I had to find out. And it’s quite a trick studying when you cannot see.
I became used to being told it was all impossible, that there was no way, no hope. Yet I came to see again and walk again.
(Source: L. Ron Hubbard, “My Philosophy“, 1965
Hubbard used this false and tawdry claim to argue for the efficacy of Dianetics, the product that was then making him a fortune. And yet we know from the evidence that L. Ron Hubbard was never crippled or blind at the end of WWII. We know this because, as mentioned, he drove ~350 miles from Oakland Naval Hospital to Pasadena to take up residence at Jack Parson’s boarding house where his sexual and occult adventurism kicks into high gear. Hubbard was able-bodied at the end of the war. However, he was fishing for an increase in his disability pension using various concocted ailments.
Lawrence Wright writing in The New Yorker on February 9, 2011:
In my Profile of Paul Haggis, I look into questions about the military record of L. Ron Hubbard, who served in the Navy during the Second World War. Hubbard wrote that he had been injured in battle and had healed himself, using techniques that became the foundation of Scientology. But Hubbard’s complete military record in the National Archives in St. Louis, a file that is more than nine hundred pages long, contains no mention of Hubbard’s being wounded in battle.
As I reported in the article, I discussed Hubbard’s war record with Tommy Davis, the spokesman for the Church of Scientology. He said that
“if it was true that Hubbard had not been injured, then ‘the injuries that he handled by the use of Dianetics procedures were never handled, because they were injuries that never existed; therefore, Dianetics is based on a lie; therefore, Scientology is based on a lie.’ He concluded, ‘The fact of the matter is that Mr. Hubbard was a war hero.’
You weren’t there.
L. Ron Hubbard was not a war hero.