The boy who remembers his life as a WWII pilot

While reincarnation is a belief held by primarily Asian religions such ass Hinduism and Jainism, there have been claims all over the world from people of different faiths that they are in fact reincarnated. While a lot of these stories have plenty of faults in them, the story of James Leininger is one that is undeniably convincing.

Born in 1998, at just two years of age, James began to have nightmares where he would shout “Airplane crash! Plane on fire! Little man can’t get out!” This occurred three or four times a week according to his parents Bruce and Andrea Leininger. He also showed an interest in airplanes. When James and his mother were once at a shop, she picked up a toy plane and said, “There’s even a bomb at the bottom,” to which James responded “That’s not a bomb, Mommy. That’s a drop tank.” Most adults do not know what a drop tank is, let alone a toddler.

James Leininger

James Huston

To help with the nightmares, Andrea’s mother suggested they seek help from counsellor and therapist Carol Bowman, who believes the dead can be reborn. After seeing her, James’ nightmares became less frequent and he began to tell his parents about his ‘previous life.’

James told them that his plane had been hit by the Japanese during WWII. He told them that he flew a Corsair, that ‘Natoma’ was the name of the boat that he took off from, and he even told them the name of someone he flew with – Jack Larson. He told his father that he had been shot down at Iwo Jima, and he began signing his crayon drawings ‘James 3.’  He drew were planes and battles almost exclusively, and he named the planes of his drawings – Wildcats and Corsairs. He called the Japanese planes Zekes or Bettys. When asked why these names, he said that “The boy planes were fighters and the girl planes were bombers.” Bruce checked this on the internet and again James was right.

Bruce did some research to find that both the Natoma and Jack Larson were real. In fact, Larson was still alive and living in Arkansas. He began interviewing men who served on the Natoma Bay, and soon learned that the only pilot from the squadron killed at Iwo Jima was James M. Huston Jr.

Ralph Clarbour, a rear gunner on a U.S. airplane that flew off the Natoma Bay, says his plane was right next to one flown by James M. Huston Jr. during a raid near Iwo Jima on March 3, 1945. Clarbour said he saw Huston’s plane struck by anti-aircraft fire. “I would say he was hit head on, right in the middle of the engine,” he said.

Corsair fighter plane

The Leiningers wrote a letter to Huston’s sister, Anne Barron, and told them about James, and she now believes that the boy is her brother reincarnated. “The child was so convincing in coming up with all the things that there is no way on the world he could know,” she said. She sent him two personal items of Huston’s: a bust of George Washington and a model Corsair aircraft.

Professor Paul Kurtz of the State University of New York, who leads an organisation that investigates claims of the paranormal, believes that James’ parents and Anne Barron are self-deceived; “They’re fascinated by the mysterious and they built up a fairy tale.”

Turning twenty this year, James’ recollections are fading as he gets older. He still owns the items that Anne Barron sent him years ago, but has kept a low profile and does not use his experiences opportunities for fame. Andrea and Bruce have said said when he was a child that “it doesn’t change how we think. I don’t look at him and say, ‘That’s not my boy.’ That’s my boy.”

What do you think of this story? Are the parents justified in their belief or is Professor Kurtz correct in calling them ‘self-deceived?’ Comment below.



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