Submarine Reincarnation

Bruce Kelly

Bruce Kelly

Bruce Kelly believes he’s a reincarnated sailor from World War II.

Throughout his life, Bruce Kelly suffered from three overpowering phobias—a fear of flying, a fear of enclosed spaces, and a fear of water.  Over the years, Bruce tried several different treatments for his anxieties, but nothing worked.  In desperation, he went to Rick Brown, a hypnotherapist who specializes in past-life regression:

“Probably 99% of the people who come to me do not go into past lives.  Probably only 1% of the people have spontaneous regressions when working with phobias.  And Bruce did have a spontaneous regression to a past life.” 

Much to his surprise, Bruce learned that his deep, irrational fears were the result of traumas that occurred years before he was born.  During one session, Bruce was thrust into the life of an American sailor named James Edward Johnston. 

Bruce said that Johnston had drowned in a submarine, the U.S.S. Shark, during World War II.  He even named the man trapped with Johnston in the submarine, Walter Pilgram.
Bruce told Rick Brown that Johnston and Pilgram had both died at precisely 11:34 PM on February 11, 1942. Bruce recalled details that were vivid and specific:

“The memories were just like it was something that happened yesterday.  They were very close to the surface.  They came up real easily.  At first it was like I was just making it up, like this really can’t be happening.  This really can’t be real.  I have to be making this up.  And I went to the library, more to prove that it didn’t happen than it did happen.”

Incredibly, Bruce found that the very first American sub lost in the war was the U.S.S. Shark.  It was the same submarine Bruce had named under hypnosis.

Over the next six months, Bruce Kelly saw Rick Brown on an average of once a week.  With each session, more details on the life of James Edward Johnston emerged.  In time, Rick Brown talked to Bruce as if he was James Edward Johnston.

Bruce saw himself as Johnston at age 12.  He was at his mother’s deathbed.  A young cousin named Elizabeth stood with him.

James Edward Johnston

James Edward Johnston

Other memories were trivial.  As Johnston, Bruce recalled that he always ate the end pieces from a loaf of bread.

In another session, Bruce remembered that Johnston was born in February of 1921.  As a young man, he enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a depression-era government work program.  The year was 1938.  The place, Tule Lake, California.

Bruce and Rick began to research Johnston’s life, and Bruce’s memories checked out with remarkable accuracy.  James Johnston had been in the CCC in 1938 and 1939, stationed at Tule Lake, near the California-Oregon border.  And his birth certificate confirmed that Johnston was indeed born in February 1921.

Rick Brown was more than impressed by Bruce’s recollections:

“Bruce came up with a significant amount of information that was well past being coincidental.  There were too many lines of… evidence that pointed to the fact that Bruce Kelly is the reincarnation of James Edward Johnston.”

In April of 1993, five years after first being hypnotized, Bruce decided to visit Johnston’s hometown in Jacksonville, Alabama.  At the house where Johnston and his mother had lived, Bruce experienced a strong reaction:

“Moving to the side of the house when I could actually see the bedroom and I knew that was the bedroom, that’s when the feelings really started hitting.  Remembering that he used to have to come in on the back street and come through the back door, the back porch, I remember that.  I remember the feelings of, kind of feeling like a second-class citizen.  They were poor. She was unmarried.”

Afterward, Bruce Kelly met with several people who remembered James Johnston as a boy.  One of them was Johnston’s cousin, Elizabeth “Betty” Watson.  Bruce believed she was the same Elizabeth he saw under hypnosis—the little girl who was with James Johnston when his mother died.

Bruce then visited the Jacksonville cemetery where a memorial stone has been erected in honor of James Edward Johnston.  No one knows the details of Johnston’s death, but Bruce Kelly’s visions provide a possible scenario.

According to Bruce, the U.S.S. Shark was hit by enemy fire.  In his final moments, Bruce envisioned both Johnston and Pilgram struggling in the corridor of the submarine.  The two sailors would both drown.

Perhaps his abrupt death signaled not the end, but the beginning for James Johnston.  Perhaps his life was renewed in the person of Bruce Kelly.