Sad news this morning as we enter the holiday weekend: Olympian and WWII hero Louis Zamperini has passed away at age of 97. His remarkable story is set to be told later this year in the Universal Pictures film Unbroken. His family released the following statement via the studio:
"He recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia. 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. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days."
Louis was born in Orlean, NY in 1917 and moved to Torrance, CA when he was a child. He was a gifted runner, making the 1936 Olympic track team at the age of 19. He was expected to be a medal favorite in the 1940 games, set to be held in Tokyo, but WWII put an end to his running career.
In 1941 he enlisted in the US Army Air Forces and was deployed to the Pacific front as a bombardier. His plane was shot down, and he and two others survived without food or water for 47 days in shark infested waters on a raft. The 3 men eventually washed ashore behind enemy lines on a Japanese island. He was held as a prisoner of war for over two years. Zamperini was actually declared Killed In Action but returned home at the end of the war. An athlete, hero, survivor and an inspiration to generations.
Let Louis’ story inspire you long after his life, and let his perseverance help you put hardships in perspective during yours. When news of this magnitude touches a member of our community, it touches us all. Our condolences go out to his family, including his son-in-law, our friend Mick Garris.
Update: The trailer for Unbroken has just been released