Lori is the mother of a High School buddy of mine. She is 91, is a character, and has a full & rich social life. Her Son, my buddy Doug committed suicide 10 years ago, while ‘getting used’ to “anti-depressant” medication. Lori’s Husband died 20 years ago from a heart attack.
Lori and I have been friends for 45 years. We talk at least a couple of times a month. I used to stop by and visit frequently. Lori reads avidly and is a member of a local Book Club of her peers that are rapidly diminishing in number.
One of our recent discussions embraced the phenomenon of ‘Past Lives’, prompting me to send her his first two books on the subject by Brian L. Weiss, M.D.
After reading the first book, Lori called me yesterday to tell me how fascinating she had found it and we discussed the subject matter.
The discussion embraced the story of James Leininger.
“James Leininger’s parents want their 8-year-old son to have a great life — his own life. But for the past 5 1/2 years, the Louisiana boy has been reliving pieces of the life of another James — Lt. James McCready Huston, a World War II fighter pilot from Uniontown, PA who was killed near Iwo Jima more than 50 years before James was born.”
James Leinigner’s story is published in the book: Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot (Of course I have now sent her a copy.)
As James’ story goes, in a former life as Lt. James McCready Huston, USN, he flew a Corsair Fighter off the USS Natoma Bay, and both he and the Natoma Bay were in the thick of the war against the Japanese from 1943-1945… including being a part of Task Force Taffy II who, being vastly outnumbered in the Battle of Leyte Gulf from 23–26 October 1944 during the US invasion of the Philippines. During this engagement Admiral Halsey was suckered North by a Japanese diversion with the vast majority of US Naval Forces while a two pronged attack on the US Invasion Forces by the Japanese was barely thwarted by the vastly inferior numbers of remaining US Naval Forces (Task Forces, Taffy I, II, and III). The crucial engagement is known as the Battle Off Samar.
In researching the Natoma Bay, I came upon one of those ironic twists of fate: The EVENTUAL fate of the USS Natoma Bay, as expressed in the last sentence of this little FYI tale…
USS Natoma Bay (CVE–62) was an Casablanca class escort carrier of the United States Navy.
She was laid down as Begum (MC hull 1099), on 17 January 1943, by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Co., Inc., Vancouver, Washington, under Maritime Commission contract, named Natoma Bay on 22 January 1943; launched on 20 July 1943; sponsored by Lady Halifax, wife of the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States; and commissioned on 14 October 1943, Captain Harold L. Meadow in command.
On 20 June the escort carrier headed for Guam for partial repairs, then continued on to the United States. By 19 August, when she arrived San Diego, the war was over. During September and October she underwent repairs, alterations and general overhaul, after which she reported for duty as an “Operation Magic Carpet” transport. During November and early December she carried servicemen from the Philippines to California, then after detachment, 29 December, she was transferred to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
Decommissioning and disposal
Reporting 20 February 1946, she decommissioned 20 May, berthing at Norfolk. In October 1949, she was reassigned to the Boston Reserve Group. Reclassified CVU–62 on 12 June 1955, she was declared unfit for further service in 1958 and her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 September.
She was sold on 30 July 1959 for scrap to the Japanese.