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For Memorial Day: Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s bogus war injuries

As on past Memorial Day holidays, we think it’s important to remind readers about Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s ‘stolen valor,’ because part of his legend were the tall tales he told about his experiences in the Second World War. Historian Chris Owen, a regular contributor here at the Bunker, took apart Hubbard’s war myths with his excellent 2019 book Ron the War Hero: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard’s Calamitous Military Career, an updated and rewritten version of his 1999 work. Today we’re reprinting an excerpt of Chris’s excellent book, looking at Hubbard’s claims about being injured in war versus the actual record. Also, please see Chris’s amazing investigation into Hubbard’s disastrous command in Australia that resulted in several deaths caused by his bungling, as well as a new series about Hubbard’s bogus medals by a military veteran.

“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 … 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.” — L. Ron Hubbard

Hubbard was referring to the supposedly miraculous discoveries he made through Dianetics and Scientology. Perhaps not surprisingly, his claims evolved over time. His claim to have been ‘crippled and blinded’ was written in 1965, a full twenty years after the end of the war. It was not until as recently as 1997 – a full half-century after the war – that the Church of Scientology provided any specific details about how Hubbard sustained his supposed injuries, which were claimed to have been sustained in combat. In an account almost certainly written by official Hubbard biographer Dan Sherman, “the muzzle flash of a deck gun had left [Hubbard] legally blind, while shrapnel fragments in hip and back had left him all but lame.” Oddly, Sherman told Scientologists in the same year that Hubbard had taken slivers of shrapnel in the chest instead.

Hubbard’s medical records show that at the outset of the war in 1941, he suffered from poor eyesight – photographs from the time show him wearing glasses – but was otherwise healthy. By July 1942, he had developed conjunctivitis and his eyesight had deteriorated somewhat. He also had hemorrhoids and later suffered from urethral discharges, which are a classic symptom of venereal disease. Hubbard recorded in his private papers that he had caught gonorrhea from a “very loose” girl named Ginger, which forced him to take sulfa to treat the infection. He picked up further ailments in the following three years. In December 1945, he listed his various ailments in a letter supporting a claim for a pension and disability benefits. He listed a catalog of problems, none of which could be described as a combat-related injury (and indeed, during his naval service Hubbard never claimed to have suffered a combat injury):


Malaria, Feb 42, Recurrent;
Left Knee, Sprain, March 1942;
Conjunctivitis, Actinic Mar 42 (eyesight Failing)
Sporad. Pain Left side and back, undiagnosed, July 42;
Ulcer Duodenum, Chronic, Spring 43;
Arthritis, R[igh]t Hip, Shoulder, Jan 45.

This matches fairly well with his statement to Scientologists in 1958 that he “wasn’t sick, I was just banged up.” In an early 1960s interview he stated that he had spent “the last year of my naval career in a naval hospital. Not very ill, but I had a couple of holes in me – they wouldn’t heal. So they just kept me.” By 1992, however, this had been transformed in Scientology’s account to Hubbard being “a man physically shot to pieces at the end of the war”.

At no point in the war was Hubbard ever in combat with an enemy. His service aboard the USS YP-422, a former trawler converted into a harbor patrol vessel, lasted barely a month before he was relieved of command. it took him no further than the waters immediately off Boston Harbor. The most warlike activity committed by YP-422 under Hubbard’s guidance was a 27-hour series of training exercises, during which a few practice rounds were fired to test the gun. There was no suggestion of enemy action, nor any reports of injuries sustained by any of the crew.

He did conduct what he believed was a lengthy action against two Japanese submarines – or a likely underwater magnetic deposit, according to the US Navy – when commanding the USS PC-815 in the Pacific the following year. In his own subsequent Battle Report, however, he stated that the crew had suffered “total casualties, 3, all very minor.” (He did not specify the type of injuries, but they were likely cuts and bruises resulting from operating the ship’s weapons). He did not include himself among the casualties. There was no suggestion from any of the vessels involved in the “battle” that they had received any enemy fire, or had been the victims of friendly fire. So he could not possibly have received shrapnel injuries aboard PC- 815, either.

The third vessel on which he served, the USS Algol, did travel to combat zones and received commendations, but this was well after Hubbard had left the ship. His service with the vessel was again quite brief, comprising nine months in a dockyard working on its conversion or undertaking sea trials subsequently. At no time during Hubbard’s service with Algol did the vessel see combat, nor was Hubbard ever recorded as having sustained an injury while aboard.

Hubbard’s hospitalization at Oak Knoll was due to the “Ulcer Duodenum, Chronic” that he mentioned in his December 1945 letter. Through the course of Hubbard’s medical examinations from March 1942 onwards, he made consistent complaints of eye problems, pains in his body – which he attributed variously to accidental injury or arthritis – and stomach problems, caused by his ulcer. A medical report from November 1945, just before the end of his active service, raised the possibility that he was suffering from what was then called Reiter’s Syndrome and is now known as reactive arthritis.

Conjunctivitis is a classic symptom of the syndrome. It presents early in the course of reactive arthritis and can recur periodically. The onset of reactive arthritis can be caused by an infection, most commonly the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia, but also from stomach infections and food poisoning. Hubbard was known for his prolific affairs – in August 1946, his fellow science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp told Robert Heinlein that Hubbard had “six other gals who were all hot and & moist over him … How many girls is a man entitled to screw in one lifetime, anyway? Maybe he should be reincarnated as a rabbit.” If Hubbard’s eye problems were caused by a sexually transmitted disease, it would not have been the first time that his libido had got him into trouble.

Hubbard’s December 1945 list includes “Arthritis, R[igh]t Hip, Shoulder” which he said had begun in January 1945. The following year, he complained to the Veterans’ Administration that he had suffered a “chronic infection in my right hip [that] has lamed me.” He linked the ‘infection’ and arthritis to a “sudden transition from the tropics to the slush and icy cold of Princeton” that “caused rheumatic chills.” In fact, he had been transferred from Oakland, California – hardly the tropics – and his records show that at the time when he was under treatment at Oak Knoll, he got involved in a serious fight – hardly something of which a “cripple” could have been capable.

In the 1950s, Hubbard claimed that in July 1945 he was attacked by three enlisted men who were causing a disruption outside the hotel where he was staying as an outpatient. Because of his knowledge of judo, Hubbard was able to fight them off:


I said, “The shore patrol has been called, and if you boys are very smart you will get out of here quick.” I started to pass them and go on down the street, and one of them grabbed me by the arm and started poking me with his finger. Then one of them picked up a beer bottle, the other one swung me around with my back to the one with the beer bottle and the guy swung the beer bottle, aiming at my head. One of the things that I had been doing in trying to rehabilitate myself was carrying on with judo. I had gotten training in judo in 1941 before I went into the service, but up at the hospital it was just regular exercise. The judo instructor and I had had quite a bit of fun.

It was very instinctive to duck underneath this beer bottle as it was coming down, and that made the fellow with the beer bottle come over to the side with his wrist in reach, so what I did was break his arm automatically and throw him over his head into the man who was holding me. That guy went into a bumper and cut his face open and the fellow with the bottle went into him with a broken arm. The beer bottle fell on the pavement, and the third guy got up off the running board of the car where he had been sitting and came at me, so I just caught up the beer bottle and shoved it in his face… I am not trying to tell you what a great warrior I am, but that what that did for my morale was fantastic. I don’t think I would be alive today if I hadn’t handled those three men.

Hubbard went on to claim that the men had been court-martialled in a proceeding in which he was also involved. There is some evidence of this in his service file. An order in his file shows that on October 6, 1945, he was summoned as a prosecution witness to a general court martial scheduled for October 10 at the US Naval Receiving Station, San Pedro. He was to testify in a case involving Carpenter’s Mate Third Class Edmond Fain and Shipfitter Second Class Jacob J. Lauff. The details are not recorded on his file, but it is likely that the two men were involved in the fight, and were most likely charged with assaulting a superior officer.

Hubbard’s boasting to his followers does not seem to have been entirely truthful, however. His notorious “Affirmations,” written around 1946-47, suggest that he was trounced in the fight:

You are not a coward. Fist fighting had no bearing on your courage. You were ill when you were fought before. You did not understand the rules. You can whip anyone now and have no physical fear of hand to hand fighting. They who fought you before were knaves and fools. You would be merciless to them now. Nothing can stand up to your fighting now. You are strong and wonderful in combat. You never know fear or defeat. You refrain from fighting because you are too powerful.

So if Hubbard was content to acknowledge in the 1950s that he ended his war service with only mild ailments, why did he switch in the mid-1960s to making extravagant claims about severe injuries? The most likely explanation is that it was a marketing move.

At the time, Scientology’s claims were being systematically dismantled by the Anderson Inquiry in Australia, and Hubbard was gearing up to launch the next big thing in Scientology – the Operating Thetan levels. From Hubbard’s point of view, making big claims about Scientology’s miraculous effects on his own health would have been a good way of motivating his followers and getting them to buy into the premise of the OT levels.

It would have been a low risk for him: his service records were sealed during his lifetime and there was little danger that his false claims would be exposed. But when he died in 1986, researchers were able to show conclusively that his claims of war wounds were completely untrue. As former Church of Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis accurately put it: “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.”

— Chris Owen

BONUS: “You might want to attach this to the post. I’m not sure it’s been published before — Hubbard’s complete medical record.” — Chris Owen.

L. Ron Hubbard's Medical Record by Tony Ortega on Scribd



Source Code

“Tech — on both the 1st and 3rd dynamics — is proceeding at lightning speed. And early tech and books are coming into their own also. If everyone on Flag and on station ships know and wear their own hats well and insist on the fellow next to him wearing his, we have a potentially brilliant future. First and Third Dynamic Tech was never better, or orgs are doing well. We can greatly improve our actions and lines. If we can continue to best the enemy and get things running right we will really E-X-P-A-N-D. It took 100 years to abolish slavery. We are 20 years up on abolishing barbarism in psychiatry in a much faster moving age. If we keep at it and get better on our own jobs and get the breaks, I give us three years to have full command of the situation.” — L. Ron Hubbard, May 31, 1970


Avast, Ye Mateys

“SHIP REVENGE: I made a derogatory comment about the current abilities of Flag. Promptly the ship itself started getting even with me! A hot water line burst and flooded a corner of my cabin. My bridge cabin got varnished without being properly scraped down and wasn’t available. I got no real sleep and had a bath one finger deep and dressed in a torn up repair area. I hastily and humbly apologize to the ship, admit my overt and will mend my ways! Three bows and the sign of triangle to Apollo! I hereby warn all snipes, sailors, stewards, officers, mates and midship mites that it doesn’t pay to abuse, revile, mock or insult the ship or she will take her revenge!” — The Commodore May 31, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The body is an electro-mechanical gizmo that is permeated by an electro-spiritual entity, the thetan. A thetan can generate a voltage or electromotive force, that’s how it kicks neurons in the brain to make the brain do things. It would be interesting to note where in the neurons the extra resistance to current flow comes from. The meter is one of the few things that actually objectifies Scientology theory and approach, it grounds things in hardball physics that anyone can measure and notice the results of auditing, before and after. And I dare any one of these meatballs to explain the results away with their stupid sweat, or hand squeezes or whatever bullshit they want to delude themselves with. 20,000 hours solo on a meter across 30 years and one finally gets the idea that something is going on here that hasn’t been said. Certainly not by the skeptics or the prove-it cases.”


Past is Prologue


2001: Keith Henson was arrested and jailed in Canada this week. Police were told by Scientology that Keith was a wanted terrorist and bomb maker. Gregg Hagglund was present, and described the arrest. “Keith Henson and I were shopping at the Oakville Place Mall. We went to my four door Protege which was parked near the main entrance to the Grocery store. An unmarked Van blocked the rear of my car and another unmarked van pulled up on the passenger side of the vehicle. My first reaction was that these were Scientology paid Bounty Hunters attempting to do a kidnapping of Keith. Then I saw the blue Flak jackets, uniforms and badges for a moment and after that all I saw was guns. Lots of guns. Two Officers carrying machine guns had Keith in their sights and were standing to the right of the car. Two more with drawn Glock handguns had me in their line of fire. We were ordered to freeze and keep our hands in view. Keith slowly raised his. As did I. Keith was ordered to exit the vehicle, hands in view and to lie prone on the ground. I was taken from the car to the rear of the vehicle and bent over the trunk.”


Random Howdy

“No way is D.M. going to intentionally beach a whale. The obvious solution would be to send someone to their mansion to audit them. I’ve read they do this. First of all, it makes the whale feel special, and secondly, it prevents the whales from going to the Orgs and seeing how empty they are.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Held to answer for trial, next arraignment set for June 7.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference August 21 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for June 18.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition to US Supreme Court submitted on May 26. Scientology has until June 25 to respond.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court grants review on May 26, asks Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 24.

Concluded litigation:
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] VIDEO: Scientology shill admits infiltrating NAACP to forward crusade against psychiatry
[TWO years ago] DOX: Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard wanted kids to form his personal military
[THREE years ago] Bad boys, part two: Scientology’s involvement with drug smugglers had a long legacy
[FOUR years ago] As Scientology coverage blows up, get ready for major network attention on Clearwater
[FIVE years ago] Hold your horses! We can tell you who were the big celebs at Scientology’s grand opening
[SIX years ago] What happened when an actual scientist of the mind checked out L. Ron Hubbard in 1950
[SEVEN years ago] Apparent suicide of witness to a mysterious Scientology drug rehab death
[EIGHT years ago] Is After Earth Will Smith’s Scientology Coming Out Party?


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,317 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,822 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,342 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,362 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,253 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,560 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,428 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,202 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,532 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,006 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,322 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,888 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,807 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,975 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,556 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,817 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,855 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,568 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,093 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 448 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,623 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,174 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,323 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,643 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,498 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,617 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,973 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,276 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,382 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,784 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,656 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,239 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,734 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,988 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,097 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 31, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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