The Excalibur's Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF)

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The Excalibur's Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF)
Topic The Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF)
Author Howard Dickman
Type of Article Category:Property "Is type of article" (as page type) with input value "Category:" contains invalid characters or is incomplete and therefore can cause unexpected results during a query or annotation process.

My name is Howard Dickman and I was a member of the Excalibur's RPF from February, 1974 to February, 1975. As I have turned 60 years old this year, I thought I would record my RPF story for posterity. I originally wrote my story in January, 2011, but after finishing Yvonne Gillham Jentzsch's bio, I decided to rewrite my RPF adventure with the same type of documentation and effort that I put into her story.

The RPF was created by Flag Order 3434, on January 7, 1974. In the time period covering January, 1974 to February, 1975, the RPF existed in three known places; the Flag Ship, Apollo, in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean, the Kastelholm in the Scandinavian area, and the Excalibur on the west coast of the United States. I wasn't the first person on the Excalibur's RPF, when I arrived mid-February, 1974, but there were just a few of us there. Shortly after I graduated the RPF in February, 1975, the Excalibur was sold. During the entire time I was there we had, to my knowledge, thirty-one people on the RPF, some of which never did graduate. There were also a finite number of RPF members on the Apollo and the Kastelholm, and one day I hope one of those will document their story in the manner I present here.

The RPF was ship based from January 1974 until the Sea Org became land based, with all the ships old off, in December of 1975. In those twenty-two months the percentage of Sea Org members that were actually on a ship board RPF has to be a small number, likewise the number of ship board RPF members that actually graduated has to be an even smaller percentage.

In 1973, I went through a U.S. Navy boot camp, which as it was during the Vietnam War era, we were not treated nicely. The RPF wasn't easy, but it sure wasn't as bad as my boot camp days. Looking back now, some thirty-nine years later, I feel so very fortunate to have been a member of a select few who were actually on a real RPF and on a real Sea Org ship. The camaraderie that was formed back then has not been duplicated in my life since. The RPF also created in me a work ethic and a "make it go right" attitude that has benefited me in my daily life issues. We had an RPF as outlined by Kenneth Urquhart, we followed his intentions and most of us benefited from that program. I am so VERY grateful to Ken for creating that course of action. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; but I became a better person because of it and no one can say otherwise.

Thank you, Kenneth Urquhart, for the RPF that I went through.

Howard Dickman, December 2013

My time on the Excalibur's RPF[edit | edit source]

The Excalibur was docked in San Pedro when I arrived at the RPF around mid February. I was not the first person there, but we were a very small group with Nathan Hays as the Bosun. As more and more people came into the RPF Nathan requested that I become a section leader. After resisting the change for three days I accepted the position. After four weeks of power stats Nathan posted me as his deputy bosun and when he left I became the Bosun.

The Excalibur

In March, 1974 the RPF published its first newsletter. Excerpts from FO #3434 were interspersed with success stories from our members. Ten individuals had their stories printed, they included;

Nathan Hays, Lulu Shippen, Stephen Ambrose, Terry Mahoney, Howard Dickman, Becky Burns, Glen Thompson, Linda Mazer, Sara Reyes and Peeter Alvet.

As the Excalibur was only 184' 6" long, 33' 1" wide, and built for a complement of ninety nine U.S. Navy sailors, there wasn't a lot of room to spare. The men on the RPF berthed with the men on the DPF. The women in the RPF berthed with the women on the DPF. While we were the last to be served at meals, we ate off of plates with utensils. We ate the same food as the crew and the DPF ate. I thought the galley crew served some good meals for the year I was on the ship.

Some of our members worked in the forward engine room chipping and painting machinery, lines and bulkheads. We were all at it in the engine room when the Excalibur cruised to San Francisco in April. During the trip all of the RPF was working in the engine room, when slowly but surely and one by one people would leave due to sea sickness. Finally I was the only one left and I eventually joined them on the fantail. The closer we got to San Francisco the worse the weather became. At one point I ventured onto the bow, but within the steel partitioning, and was enjoying the sensation caused by the rocking of the ship. When the ship went down the backside of a wave, my feet would actually leave the deck. Wisely, someone from the wheelhouse came out and told me in no uncertain terms to get off the bow, I wasn't even wearing a lifejacket. I remember us passing under the Golden Gate Bridge, the weather had gotten really bad. There was a passageway from the mess hall to the fantail and with the ship rocking so badly, side to side, I actually walked on both of the bulkheads as I headed aft.

The cruise back to LA was really peaceful. I was on deck at night and off of the port side I saw two green fluorescent trails coming towards us. As we continued to proceed southward the trails kept us in their sights. The two dolphins eventually ended up at the bow, leaping in and out of the water as the Excalibur moved forward; it was an incredible sight!

Back at the dock in San Pedro we resumed our daily routine. We were allowed five hours a day study/auditing and the rest of the time we cleaned, cleaned and cleaned some more! We had two stats, square feet of clean spaces and student points. As more and more people came onto the RPF we wound up cleaning everything that there was to clean. Every day the painted steel decks were so clean you that could eat off of them, at least that was my standard. We eventually

Commendation chit from the Excalibur's 1st Engineer

cleaned the deck of the bow so many times that the red primer started to show through the blue paint. We painted these spaces, but to keep our stats up we cleaned the bulkheads, the overheads, just whatever we could find. After a couple of months the engine room project impressed the Excalibur's 1st mate, Mickey Johnson, enough to write all of us a commendation chit on May 9, 1974.

The RPF’s RPF was created April 24, 1974. At one point in May I was even assigned to the RPF’s RPF. For some reason I lost it one day, climbing into the crow’s nest (I’m terrified of heights) and refusing to come back down. I spent days in the bowels of the ship cleaning the bilges, pretty nasty work. The main difference between the RPF and the RPF’s RPF was that I lost my study/auditing hours and no one communicated with me. Big deal, so I cleaned more than the rest of the RPF, I still got to eat and sleep like the rest of the crew. Granted, working in the bilge was no Sunday picnic; but then again it wasn't death defying and it didn't take that long to work out of that condition.

We were allowed five hours a day study/auditing. Ever do hard TR’s five hours a day, seven days a week, for weeks on end? We did. At one point I had Doug Nopson as my course supervisor, Peeter Alvet as my auditor and Judy Fuller, a Class XII, as my C/S. You couldn't get much better than that. Peeter Alvet’s TR’s were so smooth in session, it was heaven; and what better than to be C/Sed by a Class XII? Doug Nopson was the best bull baiter that I have ever been acquainted with. If he passed you, and I do mean if, you definitely knew that you had your TR’s in!

I almost passed my hard TR’s with Doug. He was bull baiting me and I was partially exterior to the whole thing. Nothing that Doug threw at me fazed me, not in the least bit, I was totally there. I could tell that Doug was about to give me a pass, but just then off to my right Peeter Alvet, my auditor, was coming to take me into session, and I interiorized. There was no way I could tell Doug that I was ready to go into session, please pass me! My eyes started to water and Doug flunked me. I've always wondered how a Class XII would allow us to do hard TR’s and then be audited on major actions. Judy also told me that she was the person who had created the auditor summary report form. At one point I did find an old issue of that form and it had the initials “jf” on it, but since I cannot find that issue again, there is no way that I can substantiate her statement.

It was on the RPF that I really learned how to audit. I was trained by Doug Nopson, and I was so very privileged to have audited under Amos and Share Jessup as my C/S and Qual Tech. What a team they were. I also learned the laws of listing and nulling. It took forever to learn them well enough to recite them verbatim forwards and backwards, without any hesitation, from memory alone. There were twenty of those laws and they weren't short ones either. Our auditing, while on the RPF, consisted of - read it, drill it, do it. I studied lots of HCOB's, drilled a lot and was in the chair a lot, however I never did a formal Auditor course checksheet. As we were RPF, we audited just wherever we could find a place. I audited under stairs, with a board wedged between the bulkhead and a piece of machinery, just about any place. Although, it was very hard for me to audit objectives out in the sunlight as my eyes have always been very sensitive to light.

In May the RPF was called off of the ship to help with a political campaign. We were transported to an off-site location where we made phone calls that consisted of asking which candidate the electorate was going to vote for. We worked at this project for around two weeks, always handing in our tally sheets before we headed back to the ship. We were supporting Assembly Speaker, Bob Moretti, in his bid for the governorship of California. In the California primary of June 4, 1974, he lost with just 16.6% of the Democratic vote. This project was part of a GO operation and we were told that it be kept hush, hush. There were several times when I was auditing that I started a new action, knowing full well that by doing so both of us would miss our ride to the call center. I'm sure someone knew I was purposely doing that, but I never got into trouble.

On the RPF we were paid $2.50 per week, which was half the salary of the people on the DPF. We never left the ship, except for a few incidents, so I really had no chance to spend much. We assigned an RPF member to the laundry detail and we all chipped in for the laundry expenses; however we did spend some of our salary at the ships commissary. We were able to send and receive letters. I had my parents mail my birth certificate to me on June 19, 1974. Dave Thomas came aboard and asked to borrow my paid sections of the SHSBC.

In August the RPF was called off of the ship to help prepare the newly acquired Chateau Elysee ready for FOLO. For days we hauled a bunch of trash out of the basement, after which we scraped and painted. Per FLWUS ED# 320, dated August 15, 1974, the following RPFer’s were commended for their work;

Nick Maminakis, Beth MacRae, Ron Stone, Pat Hunter, Doug Nopson, Steve Ambrose, David Holmes, Dick Coanda, Howard Dickman, Sara Reyes, Tom Cochran and Linda Hodge.

I was the bosun when Larry Wollershiem came onto the RPF. I remember one incident where he played a significant role. The RPF was called off of the ship for a Hill 10 incident. The Excalibur’s lifeboat had been taken out previously and had been beached. When we, the RPF, got there we had just a short amount of time to dig the boat out of the sand before the tide came in. After digging like crazy and with the water coming closer and closer to the boat, suddenly a wrecker showed up. Larry had hired a wrecker to help us move the boat. We were all very lucky that no one got hurt when the winch line snapped; it sounded like a shot gun going off! We never did get that life boat unstuck; the ocean claimed it.

RPF members, Fall of 1974

I was not part of capturing Larry as he tried to leave the ship. I was aware that he had tried and that he was back. I still remember the wild look in his eyes the morning after his attempted escape, he was completely different from the day before. I was his bosun and he never indicated to me that anything was bothering him prior to his attempt to leave the ship. He eventually left, but I don’t recall any big blow up with him. I treated Larry just like all the rest of the RPF crew, just look at him in the picture to the left. I know that one of our members stepped off of the ship without authorization, got into her mothers car and went back as staff to Celebrity Centre. I will never know why Larry couldn't have also left when he wanted.

Beth MacRae, a member of the RPF, took the only known pictures of the RPF. In the picture gallery below is a picture of me on the bow of the Excalibur as we were anchored out in Long Beach’s harbor in the fall of 1974. To the left is a picture of part of the RPF on the bow of the Excalibur during the fall of 1974. From left to right, these are the people in the picture;

Chris Byrne, Stephen Ambrose, Doug Nopson, Dick Coanda (facing away), Larry Wollershiem, Ron Stone (background), David Holmes, Howard Dickman, and Cassandra Crom. This picture was taken by Beth MacRae.

By October 1974, I had become the cramming officer for the RPF. Once again the RPF was pulled off the ship for a couple of projects at two Orgs. The RPF was used at ASHO on a Hill 10 concerning its central files (CF). There were bags and bags of unopened mail behind the Org. We opened the bags and stuffed the letters into each person’s CF file or at times created folders for the people new to the Org. After several days the filing cabinets could no longer hold anything else, which halted our work. There were still a few unopened bags out back when we left. After that project was over some members of the RPF were used at Pubs Org to create their CF, which was a short and easy job that we did to completion. I doubt the CF folder that I created for myself would still be in the files.

After our flag trained C/S left in a rush, an action which literally dumped the post on me, I became the C/S of the RPF. There was one particular pc who was my favorite. We would run R3R and it got to the point where it was just like breathing, our sessions were so natural and so smooth. But when I became the C/S I turned this pc over to another auditor, big mistake; red tag sessions that I would have to fix. I eventually sat down with this auditor and personally worked with her until she became really competent. At one point, she and I were sitting side by side studying, when suddenly I was occupying her space, thinking her thoughts and feeling her emotions. It was for only an instant, at which point I started line charging; to which she inquired as to what I was laughing at. I think I might have freaked her out a bit when I tried to explain what had just happened.

By December 1974, I was a high producer on the RPF, garnering many commendations and success stories from others (see picture gallery). In January we pulled everything out of the galley that could be moved, some of which was really heavy, and did a deep cleaning. Lots of grease in remote corners were meticulously removed, which left the galley in like new condition. The chief steward commended us for our work.

Finally by February of 1975 I had completed all of the requirements needed to graduate the RPF. I gathered together all of my supporting documents (success stories, commendations etc.) and wrote up a CSW complete with the RPF graduation checklist. I went all over the Excalibur getting crew to sign off on my graduation CSW. I remember having put, as part of my amends, the GO project for Bob Moretti in my CSW. When I had the Excalibur's MAA sign my form he strongly urged that I delete that project. On February 10, 1975, Don Crom, one of the Excalibur's engineers, took off, on his Honda Super Hawk motorcycle, with Cassandra's and my CSW to FOLO. We all bid him a rousing cheer as he rode off into the cold day; years later he still remembered getting very cold during his ride.

My graduation from the RPF was official on February 13, 1975. My graduation certificate was signed by Tom Cochran, Share Jessup and Stephen D. Ambrose.

Comments from others about the Excalibur's RPF[edit | edit source]

Quote from Dick Coanda, January 31, 2011 at 5:41 pm;

  • Hi Howard, Thanks for this positive report on the RPF you and I both served on. What you say is true, but the meals were skimpy — I lost 30 lbs. while there. Others suffered from malnutrition. There was no excuse for that. But we did have good times there. Best, Dick[1]

Quote from avatarBrian, March 30, 2011 at 12:49 am;

  • Hi. I was on the “Excal” as a new recruit on the Deck Project Force in late ’73 and attained “Able Bodied Seaman” in Dec. and went off to ASHO. Thanks for the excellent write-up, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Later I volunteered for the Rehabilitation Project Force (spelling it out for the benefit of future readers who don’t know the abbreviation “RPF”)and I concur that it wasn't all that bad and as far as I know we were all there to better ourselves. Anyway,if you have any more pictures of the Excalibur I sure would like to see them. When I was there the captain was Paul Katz and another guy (Michael Maurer??)who had lots of U.S.Coast guard experience who was an incredible guy. Thanks again-Brian-[1]

Quote from the Captain of the Excalibur, Scott Mayer;

  • I personally observed the RPF when I was captain of the Excalibur. At times, I would have "up to" 34 RPF'ers on board. From time to time 'Flag' would send missions into various Scientology organizations in the Los Angeles area and then call me up and ask if I could use various gangs of RPF'ers to do certain projects. In fact, they used my RPF to move into the Chateau Elyses on Franklin Avenue. Moreover, when other organizations had too many RPF members they would just send the extras down to the ship. There, we could use them for painting, clearing the bilges and scrapping rust, etc. I never did any "over boarding", but I heard about the practice when I first came to the Sea Org[2].

Quote from Scott Mayer during the Clearwater hearings on Scientology May 8, 1982;

  • "I personally brought sixty people up to the governor's campaign in, I think it was, 1974. I was asked by the Guardian's Office to provide Rehabilitation Project Force personnel to back one of the gubernatorial candidates in California. He lost, by the way, but, nonetheless, I had them up there, and I got a commendation for it - I still have it, by the way - for my actions in bringing Scientology into more good favor in the State of California."

Quote from Don Crom;

  • RPF WEST COAST USA 1974/75 WAS ACTUALLY and factually a Rehabilitation Project Force. What it was on the Apollo, or FOLOEUS, couldn't tell you, wasn't there. I for one, as a crew member of the Excalibur was actually a bit jealous of the RPF, 5 hours per day study and/or auditing??? Fuck me running!! To the best of my knowledge the auditing was "by the book" repair actions, list correction, serious word clearing. (help me here Howard if I've missed anything) and a general clean-up of any previous not quite right action. HELL even the MEST work produced an EP, its called "being in present time". To the best of my knowledge, a soapy cloth in ones' hand, touching a solid surface was very effective CCH processing. Now, when where why and HOW it morphed into the Recrimination Prosecutorial Farce I don't know, I simply thank my lucky stars I never experienced it. But yes boys & girls, in the beginning the RPF actually produced real products, not the broken terriorised "things" we have today. So yeah, "wins" on the RPF, not as much of an out-reality as it might seem. C-Ya DC[3]

RPF picture gallery[edit | edit source]

RPF Flag Orders[edit | edit source]

All I have been able to find of the Flag Order that created the RPF is FO 3434RB, which is a revision of a revision. As the FH (Fort Harrison, also known as the Flag Land Base) did not exist in 1974, those revisions did not apply to the RPF on the Excalibur. Hopefully, one day I will come across the original issue of FO 3434 and I will post it here.

RPF Newsletters[edit | edit source]

Pictures[edit | edit source]

Commendations[edit | edit source]

Success Stories[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

File Usage[edit | edit source]

This page links to the following file;

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