The Time L. Ron Hubbard Almost Started A War With Mexico

L. Ron Hubbard loved to tell stories. Well before he became known as the father of Scientology, Hubbard wrote more than 200 works of science fiction short stories and novels — some of them were even New York Times bestselling books. But even before all that, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard liked to fabricate stories about his childhood, according to Scientology chronicler and author of Battlefield Scientololgy, Tony Ortega.

Hubbard liked to claim he was the youngest Eagle Scout in American history (those records aren't kept), that a Native American Blackfoot medicine man made him a blood brother (there's no such ritual), and that he worked as a child cowboy on his family's massive Montana ranch (his family didn't own a giant ranch), where he could ride a horse before he could even walk. Then, on a family trip to Asia, he would claim he was made a lama priest, lived with bandits in Mongolia, and even made friends with Manchurian warlords. All of it was farcical, but that didn't keep Hubbard from insisting it was all true.

How L. Ron Hubbard's Navy stories gave us Scientology

As absurd as L. Ron Hubbard's childhood stories were, it would be his time in the U.S. Navy from 1941 to 1950 that would provide the basis of his most famous book, Dianetics, and the set of beliefs and practices he invented known as Scientology. As the story goes, Hubbard had been injured in battle during World War II and had healed himself, using techniques that he outlined in Dianetics, which became the basis of Scientology. However, when The New Yorker examined more than 900 pages of Hubbard's military record, it found no evidence of Hubbard being wounded in battle. And, as it turns out, there happens to be a massive difference in what Hubbard and Scientologists claim about his time in the Navy, and what U.S. government records show, following an examination of records by Business Insider

What Hubbard's records do show, however, is that "his military performance was, at times, substandard," the LA Times reported. The Navy records also describe him as someone who "tries to give impressions of his importance," as being "not temperamentally fitted for independent command," and as "lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation. He acts without forethought as to probable results."

L. Ron Hubbard could have caused a war with Mexico

Those characteristics nearly caused an armed international conflict between the U.S. and Mexico. In 1943, he unwittingly took his USS PC-815 submarine chaser into Mexican territorial waters and began firing near the Coronado Islands, according to War History Online. He wrongly believed the islands were uninhabited and within U.S. territory and saw an opportunity to conduct gunnery practice. Nobody was harmed in the incident, but the Mexican Army threatened to attack any U.S. military vessel that ventured into the territory.

The U.S. Navy immediately apologized to Mexican authorities and conducted an investigation, which included 13 hours of testimony. "At no time was I aware of invading Mexican Territorial waters, and had no intention whatsoever of causing damage to Mexican property, or to frighten the Mexican population," said Hubbard, who was relieved of his command, according to Jack Scheffler Innis' San Diego Legends. In his fitness report of Hubbard, Rear Admiral F.A. Braisted wrote that he was "unsuitable for independent duties and lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership, and cooperation." Hubbard was forced to perform administrative tasks for the rest of his years in service, during which he would receive four non-combat related medals.

Nonetheless, the Church of Scientology continues to back up L. Ron Hubbard's claim that he was a war hero, who was awarded 21 medals, including the Purple Heart. Quite a story, indeed.