A Louisiana boy who had nightmares about crashing to his death may be the reincarnated spirit of a World War Two pilot, his parents revealed on a classic C2C.
On June 6, 2009, Bruce and Andrea Lenininger and their son, James, shared their remarkable story with George.
"James loved airplanes," Andrea told George. "It wasn't anything out of the ordinary. It was only just around his second birthday… there was the 'drop-tank' incident".
While shopping in Lafayette, LA, Andrea showed James a vintage toy propeller plane. "Look there's even a little bomb on the bottom," Andrea recalled telling James.
"He said 'that's not a bomb, mama – that's a drop-tank' in his little baby-voice – which was weird because he didn't have that many words in his vocabulary. How would he know that?"
Bruce said, "The first trip that I took him to the Cavanaugh flight museum was really a startling visit." They went into the hangar that only displayed World War Two era aircraft. James "was mesmerized by it. He didn't want to leave….it was almost like he was in a trance," Bruce said.
"A couple of weeks after that was when he had his first nightmare," Andrea told George.
Around the time of his second birthday, James, began to have nightmares four to five times a week. A panic-stricken James would suddenly wake up, screaming "Airplane crash – on fire! Little man can't get out!" which happened nightly, Andrea told C2C.
Bruce said, "He was thrashing around under his covers – like he was fighting for his life. Very disturbing."
Andrea said that one morning, James told her matter-of-factly, "Momma, before I was born I was a pilot and my airplane got shot in the engine and crashed in the water and that's how I died."
The Leniningers then told George that when the boy turned three he began drawing a series of disturbing pictures. The images the boy drew were of aerial combat scenes, He signed the pictures "James 3".
"I had never seen kid who's three write his name," Andrea said. "He didn't know how to write his name – but – he WAS writing his name."
Oddly enough, when he didn't draw the vivid war imagery, James' drawings were scribbled like any normal child with objects that were barely identifiable. Nor were they signed.
The military drawings he scrawled were all repetitive imagery, planes, tanks, ships – punctuated with dots and flames. Bruce said he'd sometimes draw with both hands, "It was like he was playing a tape in his head and trying put it on to a piece of paper."
Being devout Christians, the boy's parents did not believe in reincarnation, but they soon realized something strange was going on.
Flipping through a book Bruce had gotten for his dad, a former marine, James grabbed the book and flipped through the pages – stopping on an aerial photo of Iwo Jima.
Bruce said that James pointed to it, saying, "Daddy – that's where my plane was shot down."
Baffled by these strange events, the Leiningers consulted renowned past lives expert Carol Bowman to help put a stop to James' continuing nightmares.
"Whatever happened to him happened to somebody else," Bowman advised them to tell the child, Andrea revealed. Eventually, the nightmares decreased in volume.
Often, James would spontaneously reveal other details of this elusive "other life" - including the name of a ship, the Natoma, that he flew a Corsair, and he even named a fellow flier, Jack Larson.
Andrea also said that James had three G.I. Joe dolls that he had named Walter, Leon, and Billie. The boy told his mom that he had met them in heaven.
Consumed to learn more, Bruce learned there had been an aircraft carrier named the "USS Natoma Bay" stationed in the Pacific during WW II and that there were three servicemen with the same first names who had died during combat, he told George.
Bruce said he then tracked down several crew members of the Natoma. They told him that there had only been one "James" aboard the aircraft carrier.
Digging deeper, the Leniningers confirmed from eyewitnesses that a James Huston, Jr. had been flying a Corsair airplane. He had been at the rear of a strafing run formation when his plane was hit in the engine. The plane burst into flames, crashing into the waters off the shores of Iwo Jima.
According to official military records, Huston was reported "missing in action" March 3, 1945.
By 2004, an ABC News Prime Time piece had aired about the Leiningers. They took James, then in second grade, to the annual Natoma crew reunion. Their son was treated like a pal by the veteran pilots including Jack Larson, they said.
It was at the reunion that James came face to face with James Huston's sister, Annie.
"I was just kind of strange," Andrea said. "I could see James looking at Annie – to see the way she was – remembering her as a 24 year old not someone who was getting close to 90."
When asked who the woman was James purportedly answered, "That's my sister", Andrea said, adding, "They really hit it off."
The boy, James, then 11, told George, "I think I could be reincarnated.
James also said he wasn't scared by the possibility of being reincarnated, adding that "it's actually pretty interesting."
James also said, "Some people have asked, why is that you were reincarnated? And I just said 'Just because God picked me.' I'm the one that he picked."
When George asked James if he thought reincarnation happens with a lot of people, the boy responded, "No. Just very few people. People that God thinks that they haven't completed their old tasks on this Earth."