Gerry answers Warrior's question regarding the Tangier Reception
Center (TRC) and the Mission European Agency (MEA).
>"Flag also had two outposts: The Tangier Reception Center (TRC) and the
>Mission European Agency (MEA). MEA served as a relay point for personnel,
>deliveries, and communications going to Flag, and TRC, among other things,
>housed the overload of students who came to Flag for training."
>Do you know anything about MEA and TRC? If so, could you post it?
I'm sure MEA and TRC are described in one or another of the Hubbard
biographies, and other people know more than I do, but I'll add some
of my experiences to the data base. Sorry for the delay. I've been
doing other things.
MEA was a relay unit in Madrid, Spain, manned by Flag "garrison
missionaires" from probably 1970 into 1973.
In early 1971, I was flown with 4 other Flag recruits from LA to New
York to Madrid, lugging our allotted bags of permitted clothing and
several boxes of org paper traffic from the Pac area.
In Madrid we were met by then MEA I/C Michael Douglas. I believe
that MEA 2nd at that time was David Rapp. We 5 recruits hung out
for a while at the MEA apartment, then were sent by train to Algeciras
and ferry to Tangiers where we boarded the Apollo. That was the only
time I was physically at MEA.
Shortly after this, Mike Douglas returned to Flag, to become Deputy
Captain under the newly appointed Captain Norman Starkey. Foster
Tompkins (sp?) was sent to Madrid to join Rapp. (Foster later married
Bitty Blythe (sp?) (who later married Ron Miscavige, right?))
Throughout the next couple of years (1971-73) all the airfreighted
paper traffic and telex traffic was sent from the port cities wherever
the ship docked to the continental FOLOs via MEA in Madrid.
Missionaires or returning org personnel couriering anything often
routed through Madrid and were met by MEA personnel.
The basic reason for MEA was security. People handling Flag traffic
in the FOLOs only knew that it came from Madrid. They didn't know
Flag's location. Airfreight paper traffic to the FOLOs was double
wrapped for ease of transshipping in the Madrid airport. The outer
wrapping, which was addressed to the MEA personnel, was just torn off,
exposing an inner wrapping addressed to the FOLO terminal. Telex runs
were stripped of anything identifying where they originated, and then
relayed to the few FOLO or GO telex personnel who needed to know as if
originating from Madrid.
From February, 1971 when I went on board the Flagship until April,
1971 we sailed from Tangiers to Casablanca, to Safi to Agadir to Safi
to Casablanca to Tangiers. In April in Tangiers Hubbard assigned me
to be the driver of the ship's car, a Fiat 500 cc wagon, which we had
taken out of Commodore's Storage in one of the holds and put ashore.
We also put ashore in Tangiers Hubbard's other vehicles, which were,
to the best of my recollection, a cream yellow 1962 Pontiac rag, a
black 1967? Ford stationwagon, a red Morris Mini (wagon?) and a Land
Rover grey colored Land Rover. The Mini was considered Mary Sue's car.
Des Popham, married to Hubbard Personal Secretary and signaturist
Joyce Popham, was Hubbard's chauffeur during the Moroccan period.
Also in April, 1971 I drove the Land Rover, got it serviced, new tired
and stored in one of the garages, or perhaps former stables, at a
property Hubbard had purchased somewhere in greater Tangiers. The
buildings on this property, I believe, had formerly been a small
private school. I recall it being single story buildings, perhaps all
connected, containing maybe five former classrooms and a number of
living quarters and a big galley. The property may have been an acre,
maybe more, in a rural setting.
At one point, I believe, all of Hubbard's cars, except for the Fiat were
stored on the property, in the spaces I recall as stables or garages. At
some point this property became known as TRC, officially "Tours
Around the time that the TRC property was purchased Hubbard also
acquired (I think by purchase, but I can't say definitely) a home for
his residence in Tangiers. It was a very nice house, called Villa
Laure (sp?) I think, in a very nice neighborhood a drive from TRC.
Andre Tabayoyon would have a better memory of Hubbard's Tangiers
home as I was only there a few times briefly.
TRC initially had only a couple of Flag crew on staff. Paul Preston was
the garrison mission I/C, I recall. TRC also employed a number of
"Fatimas" for cleaning and galley work.
The Apollo stayed in Morocco, going up and down the Atlantic coast,
Tangiers to Casa to Safi to Agadir and back until December, 1971, when
we sailed to Madeira. I stayed the "ship's driver" of the Fiat, so got to
drive crew and gear to the TRC and Villa Laure properties whenever
the Apollo was in Tangiers.
After Madeira, I believe the ship sailed to mainland Portugal and
stayed in Lisbon and Setubal in January and February, 1972. Then back
to Morocco. By this time I have been posted, again by Hubbard, in the
Ship's Rep[resentative] Department in the Port Captain's Office. My
hat was customs, immigration, police, the port authority, the ship's
agents, chandlers, other suppliers and any shore contacts, passports,
seamen's books and other legal docs. I handled shore flaps of every
kind, conducted tours, bribed everyone possible with duty free whiskey
and cigarettes, and expounded the shore story in pathetic French and
Portugese to any visitor for any purpose.
We were, of course, as far as all these customs, immigration, police,
port authority, agents, chandlers, suppliers and shore contacts of all
kinds were concerned, not $cientology, but Operation and Transport
Corporation (correct name, Kady, etc. by the way), a Panamanian
"business management company." TRC, then, was a branch or office or
"reception center" of OTC. Someone will have one of the brochures from
the period, which will much more humorously explain TRC's purpose and
function, i.e., shore story.
During this period of time a series of PR missions were fired to gain
some sort of foothold with the Moroccan government. Hubbard used the
term "PR Area Control." These missions were beyond what OTC did with
its own ship business management PR, and were "necessitated" by the
TRC beachhead and Hubbard's beginning to live ashore at Villa Laure.
He was blessed throughout his life with a magickly overweening view of
his own prodigy and the cognoscenti's clamor therefor. Perhaps even
At some point, the bright idea for PRAC in Morocco became a mission to
get E-metered security checking instituted in the Moroccan military.
I knew this was occuring, although I stayed on board, and was not
directly involved. I got the assignment one night to smuggle dozens of
E-meters off the ship and get them to TRC, which I dutifully did.
I also got to read some of the sec check lists which were prepared on
board in English for translating. Many of the questions were standard
$cientology sec check patter; e.g., "Have you failed to report a
traitor?" And many of the questions were Morocco-military-intel
specific; e.g., "Do you have an allegiance to Oufkir (sp?)?"
Ultimately TRC was in fact used in significant part for a translation
unit, although I was mostly uninvolved with that project. I don't
know if the translation unit was an afterthought to make use of the
property, or if it had been part of the planning from the start.
In, I believe, September, 1972, the ship sailed to Lisbon and went
into dry dock at Lisnave. After dry dock we stayed in Lisnave wet
docks or other berths in Lisbon harbor for some months. Hubbard,
Mary Sue, their household staff, the messengers, the TRC crew, and
the PR/sec check missions stayed in Morocco.
In, I think, December, 1972, I learned that the Morocco contingent,
along with all Hubbard's vehicles, would immediately be arriving in
Lisbon by ferry. It was clear in what I was told that there had been
a shore flap and everyone had to leave Morocco. As Ship's Rep I had
to get everyone and everyone's mest including org papers, which had
a high potential of course for out-security, from the ferry to the
Apollo. And I got the task of finding and renting a storage space in
Lisbon for Hubbard's cars and getting them all stored.
Around this time, and it may even have been before the ferry
arrival, Hubbard arrived in Lisbon by air. He did not return to
the Apollo but flew almost immediately to the US with Paul
Preston, who, I have been told, had been a Green Beret and Jim
Dincalci, long time Flag Medical Officer (see Ch 4 UK TV Hubbard Bio.
The three of them lived in Queens, New York for the next several
months before returning to the ship. From what I gathered at the time,
and I believe this has been borne out in what is known years later,
although the Morocco flap prevented Hubbard's living there, it was the
fraud case in France which drove him from the ship and to the US.
I have never read any detailed report concerning the failed E-meter
mission and exactly what happened in the Tangiers evacuation. I heard
that someone in the government ordered everyone connected to the
mission to leave. I know from various reports that there had been
direct contact with Hassan II. I also was told that a young man, I
think a Berber, named Laidi Liousi (sp?), who had been very friendly
with the ship PRs, and whose family had provided the organization
connection into the Moroccan military and government, was tortured,
perhaps killed, as a result of his participation in this fiasco.
With the complete loss of Morocco, the only safe ports for the Apollo
were in Portugal. (Safe Ports was the VFP of the Port Captain's
Office.) We spent several months in Lisbon, Setubal and Porto. Hubbard
came back on board, I believe when we were in Lisbon, in late 1973.
But while he was in Queens earlier in 1973, I think when we were still
in refit in Lisnave, MEA flapped. The story I was told was that [garrison
missionaire X] had been frequenting gay bars; and whatever he had
been doing there had excited Spanish law enforcement, which had
then connected him to the amazing MEA air freight transshipment
operation, and the arrival and departure of an endless concourse of
couriers. The Spanish picked up and jailed the MEA missionaires and
then, before Flag was alerted, scooped up 6 more people, who were
passing through Madrid to or from the ship. The group of people
jailed, I think for perhaps a week on average, became known as the
Although the Madrid 8 flap ended the MEA operation, it led by 1974 to
opening Spain up to the Apollo. The ship had run into trouble in Spain
in the late 1960's, and had been effectively denied Spanish ports. The
detention of the Madrid 8, which in a legal sense was probably
unjustified, was taken as an opportunity to clean up the ship's "bad
PR" from the earlier period. GOWW was involved, along with Flag PR
staff. I recall a Spanish $cientologist, Miguel Caballero (sp?), being
sent from the UK for this handling.
I believe that the re-opening of Spanish ports to the Apollo was
successful because of the retaining of a Spanish lawyer with excellent
connections into the government. (This Hubbard tech has been used
successfully many times in many countries.) The lawyer and the
missionaires were able to secure some letters or other documents which
appeared to indicate government acceptance or approval of OTC. We
copied these copiously and made up literally hundreds of OTC DA packs
for distributing in Spanish port cities. We first sailed to Cadiz,
then I think Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas, then to Vigo and
When MEA was lost, another relay office, performing the same
function was set up in Lisbon. Charles (Chuck) Adams was I/C of
the Lisbon mission, I believe, throughout its existence. I think
it was known by the initials LPA.
I did the "port setup missions" to Vigo, La Coruna and El
Ferol in northern Spain. These involved scoping out the facilities,
sniffing out and DAing any black PR, contracting with an agent and
chandler, showering the port, customs and immigration chiefs with
tales of OTC "business management on the high seas," and even setting
up a gig or two for the "Apollo Troupe."
El Ferol flapped when the ship was denied entry, probably because the
port is a major Spanish naval base, and we looked and acted like a
Keystone spy ship. This was the start of the end of our brief period
of safe Spanish ports, and really the start of end of our European
(c) Gerry Armstrong
Copyright © Gerry Armstrong - All Rights Reserved.