Louis Silvie "Louie" Zamperini (January 26, 1917 – July 2, 2014) was a US prisoner of war survivor in World War II, a Christian evangelist and an Olympic distance runner.
Zamperini took up running in high school and qualified for the US in the 5000m race for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He finished 8th in the event. In 1941 he enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces as a Lieutenant. He served as a bombardier in B-24 Liberators in the Pacific. On a search and rescue mission, mechanical difficulties forced Zamperini's plane to crash in the ocean. After drifting at sea for 47 days, he landed on the Japanese occupied Marshall Islands and was captured. He was taken to a prison camp in Japan where he was tortured. Following the war he initially struggled to overcome his ordeal. Later he became a Christian Evangelist with a strong belief in forgiveness.
Zamperini is the subject of two biographies, the 2014 film Unbroken and the 2015 film Captured by Grace.
Zamperini was born January 26, 1917, in Olean, New York, to Anthony Zamperini and Louise Dossi, both native to Verona in Northern Italy. He had an older brother named Pete and two younger sisters, Virginia and Sylvia. He was raised in a strict Catholic household. The family moved to Torrance, California, in 1919, where Louis attended Torrance High School. Zamperini and his family spoke no English when they moved to California making him a target for bullies. His father taught him how to box in self-defense. Soon he claimed to be "beating the tar out of every one of them." He added, "but I was so good at it that I started relishing the idea of getting even. I was sort of addicted to it."
After a summer of running in 1932, starting with his first cross-country race, and throughout the last three years of high school, Zamperini was undefeated. He started beating his brother's records. In 1934, Zamperini set a world interscholastic record for the mile, clocking in at 4:21.2 minutes (or 4:21.3 minutes) at the preliminary meet to the California state championships. The following week, he won the CIF California State Meet championships with 4:27.8 minutes. That record helped him win a scholarship to the University of Southern California...
Quotes by Louis Zamperini
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