Real Name: Bruce Kelly
Date: Februrary 11, 1942
Location: Makassar Strait, Indonesia
Details: Bruce Kelly was born January 19, 1952 and grew up in Glendora, California. He is a salesman who raised his daughter as a single parent. Throughout his life, he has been overcome by the intense fear of water. For years, he did not understand why he has this fear, and went to several doctors to help with his phobia. After that did not work, he went to hypnotist Dr. Rick Brown, who uses a controversial technique called past-life regression.
During his session, Bruce had visions of himself, being in a submarine and drowning as large amounts of water filled the cabin. He claimed that his name was James Edward Johnston and that he was an American Navy submariner. He said that Johnston had drowned while aboard the USS Shark during World War Two. He also said that the submarine had sunk off of Borneo, near an island called Celebes. He even claimed that there was a man trapped with him in the submarine named Walter Pilgrim. He claimed that they both died at 11:34 pm on February 11, 1942.
Bruce felt that the visions were so vivid that it seemed like they were actually happening to him in real time. The experience was so strange that he felt that it could not have actually happened. The next day, he went to the library to research Johnston and the USS Shark. He learned that fifty-two American submarines had been lost during the war. At least twenty of them seemed to have disappeared. Incredibly, he discovered that the first submarine lost during the war was, in fact, the USS Shark. He also discovered that the submarine had disappeared near an island called Celebes. Also, he found the names of "James Edward Johnston" and "Walter Pilgrim" on the crew roster. Finally, he found that the submarine had been lost on February 11, 1942.
Over the next six months, Bruce saw Dr. Brown once a week. During the sessions, more details emerged about the life of Johnston. While under hypnosis, Bruce claimed that he saw Johnston's mother dying at her home. He claimed that Johnston was twelve and his young cousin Elizabeth was with him. He also claimed that Johnston always liked to eat the end pieces of loaves of bread.
In another session, he noted that Johnston was born in February of 1921. As a young man during the Great Depression, he was enrolled in a government work program called the CCC, or Civilian Conservation Core. In 1938 in California, he apparently met a girl named Molly Lassiter, who was Johnston's first girlfriend. In one vision, he saw the two of them together on a bridge. He asked her to run away with him, but she was afraid that her father would hurt him. According to Bruce, the two never see each other again.
Bruce and Dr. Brown began to research Johnston's life, and Bruce's apparent memories were accurate: Johnston had been in the CCC from 1938 to 1939, stationed in California. In 1940, he enlisted in the Navy and was stationed aboard the USS Stark. Navy records list his birth place as Jacksonville, Alabama, with his birth month and year being February 1921.
Dr. Brown is certain that Bruce is the reincarnation of a Johnston. He traveled to Jacksonville to verify facts about Johnston's life. Eventually, he persuaded Bruce to go with him. On April 17, 1993, Dr. Brown and Bruce arrived in Jacksonville. They went to the home where Johnston and his mother lived. While there, Bruce accurately described different parts of the house, as they were in the 1920s and 30s. He remembered that Johnston would come through the back street to the back door of the house.
Later, Bruce went to meet with several of Johnston's friends and relatives. One relative was his cousin, Elizabeth "Betty" Watson. He is certain that she is the cousin that he saw while under hypnosis. She asked him about bread, and he accurately noted that Johnston liked the ends of the bread. She also said that he was accurate about Johnston using the back door to enter his home.
Based on the information that he received from the family, he is almost certain that he is the reincarnated Johnston. However, some are skeptical of his claims.
Bruce hopes to find Johnston's girlfriend, Molly Lassiter, in hopes that she could verify some of his claims. According to Bruce, she lived near the California/Oregon border in 1938. She would now be in her nineties.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the September 22, 1993 episode.