On Memorial Day, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's 'stolen valor': His bogus war injuries - 2020-05-25
A big part of Scientology's allure for its members is their ardent belief in founder L. Ron Hubbard as a man who was larger than life. And 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. We asked Chris if we could publish an excerpt of his book for Memorial Day, and he sent us this superb peek inside his book about Hubbard's claims about being injured in war versus the actual record.
"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.