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Young boy recalls former life

Nearly six decades ago, a 21-year-old US Navy fighter pilot on a mission over the Pacific was shot down by Japanese artillery. His name might have been forgotten, were it not for a 6-year-old American boy, James Leininger.

Quite a few people - including those who knew the fighter pilot - think James is the pilot, reincarnated. James' parents, Andrea and Bruce, say they are "probably the people least likely to have a scenario like this pop up in their lives," but over time, they have become convinced their son has had a former life.

From an early age, James would play with nothing but airplanes, but from the age of two, the planes he loved began to give him nightmares. "I'd wake him up and he'd be screaming," Andrea told ABC News. She said when she asked her son what he was dreaming about, he would say: "Airplane crash on fire, little man can't get out."

James was only watching children's shows, his parents say, and they weren't watching World War II documentaries or conversing about military history. In one video of James at age 3, he goes over a plane as if he's doing a preflight check. Another time, Andrea said, she bought him a toy plane, and pointed out what appeared to be a bomb on its underside. She says James corrected her, and
told her it was a drop tank. "I'd never heard of a drop tank," she said. "I didn't know what a drop tank was."

Then James' violent nightmares increased, occurring three and four times a week. Andrea's mother suggested she look into the work of counsellor and
therapist Carol Bowman, who believes in reincarnation and past lives. With guidance from Bowman, they began to encourage James to share his memories, and immediately, Andrea says, the nightmares became less frequent. James was also becoming more articulate about his apparent past, she said.

Over time, James' parents say he revealed extraordinary details about the life of a former fighter pilot - mostly at bedtime, when he was drowsy. He told them his plane had been hit by the Japanese and crashed. Andrea says James told his father he flew a Corsair, and then told her: "They used to get flat tyres all the time." While historians and pilots agree that the plane's tyres took a lot of punishment on landing, that information could easily be found in books or on television.

James also told his father the name of the ship he took off from - Natoma - and the name of someone he flew with - Jack Larson. After some research, Bruce discovered that both the Natoma and Jack Larson were real. The Natoma Bay was a small aircraft-carrier in the Pacific, and Larson is still living in Arkansas.

Bruce searched the internet, looked through military records and interviewed men who served aboard the Natoma Bay. He said James told him he had been shot down at Iwo Jima. James had also begun signing his crayon drawings "James 3". Bruce soon learned that the only pilot from the squadron killed at Iwo Jima was James M. Huston Jr. Bruce says James also told him his plane had sustained a direct hit on the engine.

Ralph Clarbour, a rear gunner on a US 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 3 March 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.

Bruce says he now believes his son had a past life in which he was James M. Huston Jr. The Leiningers wrote a letter to Huston's sister, Anne Barron, about their boy, and now she believes it as well. "The child was so convincing in coming up with all the things that there is no way in the world he could know," she said.

James' recollections are starting to fade as he gets older, but among his prized possessions are two presents sent to him by Anne Barron: a bust of George Washington and a model of a Corsair aircraft. They were among the personal effects of James Huston Jr. sent home after the war. Bruce said: "He appears to have experienced something that I don't think is unique, but the way it's been revealed is quite astounding."

(Source: ABC News, USA)

from: Share International July/August 2004

Reprinted by courtesy of © Share International

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