- L. Ron Hubbard and the military
Infobox Military Person
L. Ron Hubbard
born= birth date|1911|3|13
died= death date and age|1986|1|24|1911|3|13
Tilden, NebraskaUnited States
San Luis Obispo County, California
allegiance= United States of America
United States Navy
serviceyears=1941-1945 active resigned reserve 1950
commands=USS "YP-422" and USS "PC-815"
battles=none, one claimed
awards=Navy Pistol Marksmanship RibbonNavy Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon
American Defense Service Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal.
Dianetics, Battlefield Earth, and founded Scientology L. Ron Hubbard, creator of Dianeticsand founder of Scientology, served twice in the United States Armed Forces. As with many aspects of Hubbard's life, Hubbard and his supporters would later claim his service to be more extensive and positive than the records would support. Later, his interest in the military would be reflected by his formation of the paramilitary Sea Organd his nickname of "the Commodore".
Marine Corps Reserve
Hubbard's first military service was some time with the 20th
Marine Corps Reserve, which he joined in May 1930. The only details of his service come from Hubbard himself, and after only two months, he was promoted to First Sergeant, a leap of six ranks,cite book | last = Atack | first = Jon | authorlink = Jon Atack | year = 1990 | url = http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Library/Shelf/atack/index.html | title = A Piece of Blue Sky | publisher = Carol Publishing Group | location = New York, NY|id = ISBN 0-8184-0499-X] explaining this unusually rapid promotion by saying that his superiors "couldn't find anyone else who could drill." [Hubbard, L. Ron. "Research and Discovery Series", volume 7, pg. 98, as cited in cite book | last = Atack | first = Jon | authorlink = Jon Atack | year = 1990 | title = A Piece of Blue Sky| publisher = Carol Publishing Group | location = New York, NY | id = ISBN 081840499X] Hubbard received an honorable discharge from the Marine Reserve on 22 October 1931; two unexplained notations on his service record (written in different handwriting) read "Excellent" and "Not to be re-enlisted". The Church of Scientology's account of this service states that Hubbard joined "the 20th Regiment, Company G of the US Marines" with no mention of this being a Reserve unit and credits him with "turning out a prize-winning company" without saying what prize was won." [http://www.scientology.org/en_US/l-ron-hubbard/chronicle/pg003.html L. Ron Hubbard: A Chronicle 1930-1933] ", Church of Scientology International. Accessed 2007-06-02.]
World War II
During the Summer of 1941, Hubbard was commissioned as a
Lieutenant, Junior Gradein the United States Navy. One of his professors had recommended him for service in intelligence, and after a successful interview with the Office of Naval Intelligencehe was accepted. This elite division's sole mission was to "seek out and report" on the advancements in other nations' navies. The position offered Hubbard the chance at a distinguished career, as intelligence officers were badly needed. It also allowed him to skip the initial officer rank of Ensign. After Pearl Harbor he received orders of deployment to the Philippines, specifically Manila.
While embarked on the SS "President Polk" Japanese forces cut off the sea route to the Philippines, diverting the ship to
Brisbane, Australia. Upon arrival Hubbard asked the Naval Attaché if he could leave the Polk in order to secure faster transport to the Philippines. He was unsuccessful in attempting to locate other transport, and instead began working as a sort of self-appointed liaison for a deployed Army unit. This duty had not been ordered and made somewhat of a nuisance by working outside the established chain of command. After using his assumed authority to re-route a transport around Australia by a Southern course, the Attaché was forced to act. Hubbard was then sent back to the United States, with a note stating: "This officer is not satisfactory for independent duty assignment. ... and will require close supervision for satisfactory performance of any intelligence duty." Subject: Lieutenant (jg) L. Ron Hubbard, U.S.N.R.; Suggestion as to nature of duty assigned. 14 February 1942] Scientology does not agree with these facts, and maintains that Hubbard's account is more accurate; Describing his position in Australia as "Senior Officer Present Ashore", Hubbard's service as described by a CoS site: http://www.ronthepoet.org/poet/thewar1.htm] which is not the type of duty an officer with the ONIwould have been tasked with. Nevertheless some accounts from Church of Scientolgy maintain he was actually wounded in action on the Island of Java, and returned on the Secretary of the Navy's airplane to the US as the first "returned" casualty from the Pacific. Other church accounts state that during this time he was leading a squadron of corvettesin the North Atlantic.About L. Ron Hubbard http://www.scientology.org/en_US/l-ron-hubbard/founder/pg018.html] About L. Ron Hubbard http://aboutlronhubbard.org/eng/wis3_1r.htm]
From the O.N.I. to USS "YP-422"
Dissatisfaction with the results, or lack thereof, in Australia cost him an opportunity to work as a Naval Intelligence officer. He was allowed to keep his Lieutenant Junior Grade rank, but was returned to the Navy's Bureau of Personnel for reassignment. Hubbard was subsequently made prospective Commanding Officer of USS "YP-422". A fishing trawler undergoing conversion into a shipyard patrol vessel at the
Boston Naval Shipyard, it had been called "Mist" by its civilian owners. Shortly after arrival a personality dispute evolved into a situation which Lt. Hubbard did not feel was handled properly by the Commandant of the shipyard. Ignoring the chain of command, he then spoke with the Commandant's C.O. the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Subsequently the Commandant requested Hubbard be relieved of command noting he is: "...not temperamentally fitted for independent command." [ [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
] Commandant's request to relieve Hubbard.] He then repeated his mistake, and asked again for the intervention of the Vice Chief's office. The second request was not acted upon either, and Hubbard was relieved of command. [ [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
] Hubbard's request for intervention of Vice Chief of Naval Operations.] These statements are in stark contrast with official Scientologist literature, which often portrays Hubbard as a role model sailor during the war.cite news | first=Joel | last=Sappell | coauthors= Welkos, Robert W. | url=http://www.latimes.com/la-scientology062490,1,1595763,full.story?coll=la-news-comment | title=The Mind Behind The Religion | work=
Los Angeles Times| page=A1:1|date= 1990-06-24| accessdate=2006-07-30] [cite web| url=http://aboutlronhubbard.org/eng/wis3_1r.htm | title= About the Life Story of L. Ron Hubbard (LRH) The Founder of Scientology continued |accessdate= 2006-07-31 |work=About the Life Story of L. Ron Hubbard (LRH) The Founder of Scientology |publisher=Church of Scientology International]
"PC-815's" possible submarine contact
His next destination was once again the Bureau of Personnel for reassignment, where he decided to request training in the operation and command of
PC class submarine chasers.  The request was approved and he reported to class in Clearwater, Florida. There he was trained in anti-submarine warfare, and graduated in the bottom half of his class. He was then assigned as prospective Commanding Officer of the USS "PC-815". The convert|175|ft|m|sing=on vessel was in the last stages of construction near Astoria, Oregon. His first duties were supervising her fitting out, training of the crew, and finally deployment to San Diego, California, her assigned port.
In the early hours of 19 May 1943, the crew of the "PC-815" detected what Hubbard believed to be first one then later two
Imperial Japanese Navy submarinesapproximately 10 miles from the shore of Cape Lookout. The SONARoperator, Hubbard, and his Executive Officer, Lt. Moulton, evaluated the echo of an active sonar ping, combined with what they perceived as propeller noises ("screws") heard through the ship's hydrophoneindicated contact with a submarine. "Proceeding southward just inside the steamer track an echo ranging contact was made by soundman then on duty, ,Soundman third class. The Commanding Officer had the conn and immediately slowed all engines to ahead one third to better echo ranging conditions, and placed the contact dead ahead, 500 yards away." and "Screw noises, fluttering and without pulsation, were distinct on the bearing and quite different from the pulsations of our screws." ]
Over the next two and a half days, the ship expended 37 depth charges and saw no telltale signs of a sunken submarine. Hubbard did identify orange oil "erupting" to the surface at one point, however the color and lack of other debris consistent with a pressure hull compromised submarine were not seen. The US Navy blimps "K-39" and "K-33" arrived on the scene to search the area with magnetic anomaly detectors, resulting in detection of an indeterminate magnetic reading. The
US Coast Guardpatrol boats "Bonham", "78302" as well as other Navy subchasers USS "SC-536" and USS "SC-537", also responded to Hubbard's report of enemy submarine activity as reinforcements. According to his report, these vessels were placed under his command for the duration of the "battle". On 21 May, with depth charges exhausted and the presence of a submarine still unconfirmed by any other ship, "PC-815" was ordered back to Astoria.Hubbard, "ANTI-SUBMARINE ACTION BY SURFACE SHIP, REPORT OF", 24 May 1943.]
In his eighteen page after-action report, Hubbard claimed to have "definitely sunk, beyond doubt" one submarine and critically damaged another though he wished no credit for his ship. [Hubbard, "ANTI-SUBMARINE ACTION BY SURFACE SHIP, REPORT OF", 24 May 1943.] However, reports from other units involved as well as the subsequent investigation by the Commander NW Sea Frontier, directly contradict Hubbard's claims. The investigation's summary memorandum to
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, stated:quotation
*"It is noted that the report of PC 815 is not in accordance with "Anti-Submarine Action by Surface Ship" (ASW-1) which should be submitted to Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet." [ filled by another subchaser of the PC-416 class where a submarine was actually sunk and the report submitted properly]
*"An analysis of all reports convinces me that there was no submarine in the area. Lieutenant Commander Sullivan states that he was unable to obtain any evidence of a submarine except one bubble of air which is unexplained except by turbulence of water due to a depth charge explosion. The Commanding Officers of all ships except the PC-815 state they had no evidence of a submarine and do not think a submarine was in the area." ["Battle Report - Submission of.", A16-3(3)/PC815, Vice Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher, Commander NW Sea Frontier, 8 June 1943; ] |Vice Admiral
Frank Jack Fletcher
Fletcher added that "there is a known magnetic deposit in the area in which depth charges were dropped", which explained the readings obtained by the blimps. It should be noted that the
Imperial Japanese Navydid not operate its submarines near the western coastline of the United States on a regular basis. They were criticized by their German allies for not pursuing a policy of commerce raiding, which would target cargo ships and oil tankers, rather than adhering to their practice of fleet warfare which targeted only large warships and aircraft carriers. Japanese submarines were in fact so dedicated to attacking warships instead of merchant vessels, that the shipping lanes in the Pacific did not use the convoy system necessitated in the Atlantic caused by u-boats. [http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/USSBS/IJO/IJO-70.html#Japanese Interrogation of: Vice Admiral Paul H Weneker, German Naval Attaché Japan] - Hyperwar project - Admiral Weneker speaks about Japanese tactics and submarines over the course of the war, as well as the IJN High Command's attitude toward submarine warfare.] Final confirmation that no submarines had been present came after the war, British and American analysis of captured Japanese Navy records further confirmed that no Japanese submarines had been lost off the Oregon coast. [HM Admiralty, "German, Italian and Japanese U-Boat Casualties during the War: Particulars of Destruction", Cmd. 6843 (June 1946); US Navy, "Japanese Naval and Merchant Shipping Losses during World War II by All Causes" (February 1947)] Hubbard, however, continued to claim that he had engaged the enemy, as did his Executive Officer, Lt. Moulton, in later testimony. Years later, Hubbard told Scientologists:
Although it isn't clear what he meant when referring to the "Imperial Japanese Navy Trans-Pacific Submarine", it is known that the "I-76" could not have been sunk near the Columbia River during 1943. In 1942 the submarine called I-76 was renamed I-176, and later sunk in 1944 nowhere near Oregon. [http://www.combinedfleet.com/type_kd7.htm Type KD7] submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy and their fates. Originally called I-76, the ship was renamed I-176 in 1942 and sunk in 1944.] It's also worth noting that the only actual attacks by IJN submarines on the US West Coast occurred between summer and autumn 1942: See also|Attacks on North America during World War II
Coronado Islands incident
A month later, the "PC-815" was assigned to guard the new escort aircraft carrier
USS Croatan (CVE-25)as it proceeded to San Diego, which would also become home port for "PC-815". She arrived there on June 2, 1943 and at the end of the month was ordered to participate in an anti-submarine training exercise. Held on 28 June, the exercise ended early and Hubbard took the apparent opportunity to order an impromptu gunnery exercise. Compounding what would later be revealed a huge blunder, was his choice to do this while anchored just off the Mexicanterritory of South Coronado Island. He would come to regret this decision as his orders included no mention of gunnery practice, staying at sea, or anchoring in Mexican waters. "PC-815" was expected that evening in San Diego, according to his orders. The Mexican government also sent an official protest to the US Navy, as no gunnery operations had been authorized. Evidently Hubbard had seen two USMC F4Ffighters bombing a set up practice target and assumed he would also be allowed to make use of it as well, which was incorrect.
On 30 June a Board of Investigation was convened concerning "PC-815" which concluded that Hubbard had disregarded orders, by conducting gunnery practice, failing to return when expected, and by anchoring in Mexican territorial waters without proper authority. His orders stated that the PC-815 was to return after completing that day's training exercises, regardless of how early they ended. Hubbard argued that his crew was inexperienced, it was foggy, and he was tired so he was unable to follow his orders and return that evening. A month earlier in his after action report concerning the submarine fiasco off Cape Lookout, he had described the same men as "experienced" and "highly skilled" Vice Admiral Fletcher, who both chaired the board and was familiar with the previous month's "action", rated Hubbard "below average". The fitness report by Admiral Braisted, Hubbard's immediate CO, read:
"Consider this officer lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation. He acts without forethought as to probable results. He is believed to have been sincere in his efforts to make his ship efficient and ready. Not considered qualified for command or promotion at this time. Recommend duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised." [ following Coronados incident and of fitness report following Coronados incident]Hubbard was relieved of command effective 7 July 1943 and given a letter of admonition. [ ] [cite book | author=Miller, Russell | title=
Bare-faced Messiah, The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard | publisher=Henry Holt & Co | location=New York | edition=First American Edition | year=1987 | id=ISBN 0-8050-0654-0 |url=http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfmconte.htm ] This is essentially the opposite of a letter of commendation, something he would later claim among other honors in a forged release form years later.
Hubbard's next post appears to have been decided after taking into account the advice of Admiral Fletcher as well as the previous officers, by placing him as a subordinate rather than commanding officer. His final ship was the attack transport USS "Algol" (AKA-54), [ [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
] - Wikimedia Commons] where he served as the Navigation, Training officer, and Ship's censor until a bizarre security incident caused yet another transfer. Lt. Hubbard said he had found a firebomb he believed a saboteur had placed in one of the ship's holds, consisting of a coke bottle filled with gasoline and topped with a cloth wick. The circumstances surrounding the apparent discovery of this sabotage attempt, by the ship's navigation officer aroused suspicion enough that he was removed soon after. This was an unfortunate turn for Lt. Hubbard, as his C.O. had given him a mostly positive fitness report with the only issue being a tendency to be temperamental and easily offended. Hubbard would later claim that the film "
Mr. Roberts" was based on his experience aboard the "Algol", with Hubbard being the model for Roberts and the Lieutenant Commander who had given Hubbard his favorable fitness report the model for Captain Morton, who "bullied, harassed and threatened interp|his junior leaders and interp|his crew." [cite book |editor=Specialty editors, Thomas E. Beam, Linette R. Sparacino ; Section editors, Edmund D. Pellegrino, Anthony E. Hartle, Edmund G. Howe. |title=Military Medical Ethics, Vol.1 |year=2003 |publisher=Office of The Surgeon General at TMM Publications |location=Washington, DC |oclc=2003057728 |isbn=0160505011 |pages=187] "Mr. Roberts" is generally regarded as based on author Tom Heggen's own wartime experiences aboard the USS "Virgo" (AKA-20), [cite book |editor=Jason, Philip K.; Graves, Mark A. |title=Encyclopedia of American War Literature |year=2001 |publisher=Greenwood Press |location=Westport, CT |isbn=0313306486 |pages=152-153] with Heggen characterizing the character of Roberts himself as "too good to be true ... a pure invention." [cite book | last = Malko | first = George | origyear = 1970 | edition = First Delta printing | year = 1971 | month = October | title = Scientology: The Now Religion | publisher = Dell Publishing | location = New York ]
The remainder of Hubbard's wartime service was spent ashore in the
continental United States. Hubbard attended a course in civil governing which was run by the Navy on campus at Princeton. The purpose being to prepare for the eventual occupation of Japan and the various civil administration duties that would be necessitated. He was unable to pass the course, and as such didn't get assigned to duty with the occupation force. Instead he spent the last seven months of the war in a San Diego naval hospital. He was mustered out of the active service list in late 1945 while still in the hospital. [ [http://misou.awardspace.us/navyhospital.html Hubbard Hospital history 1943 and 1945] ] He continued to draw disability pay for arthritis, his ulcer, and conjunctivitisfor years afterwards, [ of Hubbard's medical claim, page 1 from Wikimedia: Commons.] [ of Hubbard's medical claim, page 2 from Wikimedia: Commons.] [ [http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
] of Navy report on Hubbard's medical claim, page 1 from Wikimedia: Commons.] [ of Navy report on Hubbard's medical claim, page 2 from Wikimedia: Commons.] long after he claimed to have discovered the secret of how to cure these ailments. About the time of his discharge, Hubbard was petitioning the
Veterans Administrationfor psychiatric care to treat "long periods of moroseness and suicidal inclinations." He was also arrested for petty theftin connection with checks. When he wrote to the FBI that communist spies were after him, an agent attached a note to one of his letters: "Make 'appears mental' card." [ [http://www.skeptictank.org/readdig.htm Reader's Digest May 1980 - Scientology] ]
Claimed vs actual awards
In later years, Hubbard made a number of claims about his military record that do not reconcile with the government's documentation of his service years.
of Hubbard's actual DD-214] For example, Hubbard claimed he had sustained wounds "in combat on the island of Java", [ [http://www.ronthephilosopher.org/page82.htm My Philosophy by L. Ron Hubbard] ] but his service record offers no indication he came closer to Java than Australia, and places him in New York on the day (7 December 1941, the day of the
attack on Pearl Harbor) he was supposedly landed on Java by a naval destroyer.
He also claimed to have received 21 medals and awards, including a
Purple Heartand a "Unit Citation".dd214] The Church of Scientology has circulated a US Navy notice of separation (a form numbered DD214, completed on leaving active duty) as evidence of Hubbard's wartime service. However, the US Navy's copy of Hubbard's DD214 is very different, listing a much more modest record.
The Scientology version, signed by a nonexistent Lt. Cmdr. Howard D. Thompson, shows Hubbard being awarded medals that do not exist, boasts academic qualifications Hubbard did not earn, and places Hubbard in command of vessels not in the service of the US Navy. The Navy has noted "several inconsistencies exist between Mr. Hubbard's DD214 [the Scientology version] and the available facts". [ [http://www.holysmoke.org/sdhok/war-rec.htm Navy: Official - Hubbard's "record" *is* forged] ] [ [http://www.spaink.net/cos/warhero/medals.htm Ron the War Hero: Hubbard's Medal's] ]
* [http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/mom/Messiah_or_Madman.txt "L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman?"] by
Bent Corydonand L. Ron Hubbard Jr.
* [http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/apobs/contents.htm "A Piece of Blue Sky"] by
* [http://www.spaink.net/cos/rmiller/index.html "Bare Faced Messiah"] by
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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