Skip to comments.Louis Zamperini, ‘Unbroken’ Olympian and war hero, dies at 97
Posted on 07/03/2014 7:16:56 AM PDT by Pelham
Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic runner and war hero who survived 47 days at sea and three years in a Japanese POW camp after his plane crashed in the Pacific during World War II, died of pneumonia late Wednesday.
He was 97.
"After a 40-day long battle for his life, he peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, leaving behind a legacy that has touched so many lives," Zamperini's family said in a statement, according to Deadline.
"His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days."
The Olean, N.Y., native's astonishing life story was the subject of a 2010 best-seller, "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption." A movie, directed by Angelina Jolie, is due out in December.
Born in 1917, Zamperini became a world-class track star after his Italian immigrant parents moved to Southern California when he was a boy.
He competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, finishing eighth in the 5,000 meters.
The fleet-footed USC Trojan, known back home as the "Torrance tornado," finished the final lap in just 56 seconds, prompting Adolph Hitler to summon him for a face-to-face meeting.
"All he said was, 'The boy with the fast finish,'" Zamperini told Tom Brokaw earlier this year. "That was it."
Years later, he became a bombardier in the Air Force during WWII, flying missions over the Pacific.
While on a search mission in April 1943, his plane suffered mechanical failure and plummeted into the sea, killing eight men aboard.
Zamperini and two others survived and spent more than a month adrift on a crumbling raft, drinking rainwater, fighting off sharks and dodging gunfire from Japanese aircraft intent on finishing them off.
One of the three eventually died. After 47 days,
(Excerpt) Read more at nydailynews.com ...
Our local hero. The municipal airport is “Zamperini Field”, and features a small display with his memorabilia.
Rest in peace, hero.
I read “Unbroken” 2 years ago. Unbelievable story of a truly courageous man. There’s a special place in heaven for a man like this.
I read his book about six months ago. Stories such as his amaze as pertains to the indomitability of the human spirit that exists within some people.
May he now rest in peace.
Heroes like this are hard to find anymore. RIP. He is with the Lord.
IIRC, still on the NY SLimes best seller list .
RIP, Great American.
Look up “hero” and “greatest generation”. Zamperini’s photo will be there.
It was American
Thus `... almost anyone who made a mark before 1960 was a vet and many were hero's
After reading Unbroken I wanted to go meet him - what a riveting book about an extraordinary unforgettable man.
Yes, the book IS inspiring....and Louis was NOT ashamed to share the story of the early years after the war—and how God used a sermon by Billy Graham to save his soul, his addiction to alcohol AND his marriage.
He was a godly man.
I hope Angelina Jolie tells that part of his story, too.
He lived a truly amazing life.
For any who have not read UNBROKEN, it’s a heckuva story and Louis Zamperini was a great American. RIP.
Very much agree with you, Rummyfan. An excellent book and an inspiring story of how a man overcame huge odds. I really enjoyed reading this.
So hope Hollywood does not screw up this man’s life story.
RIP Mr. Zamperini - God Bless you and your entire generation.
Wow, and to think I have a hard time rolling out of bed some mornings.
Rest in Peace.
I read it when it was first published. What a story! God Bless Mr. Zamperini. He fought the good fight, and won! Rest in Peace Hero.
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