Louis Zamperini, Olympian and War Hero, Dies At 97

a-zamperinia3a6586a9ca20ad8986cdc.L._V196083372_SX200_This Independence Day will be celebrated without one of America’s most remarkably heroes. Louis Zamperini passed away this week at the age of 97. The subject of the upcoming film “Unbroken” (directed by Angelina Jolie), Zamperini had an incredible life as an Olympic track and field star who went on to survive a harrowing two years as a prisoner of the Japanese in World War II.

The son of Italian immigrants, Zamperini received a scholarship to USC on a track and field scholarship. At just 19, he ran for the United States in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While he placed 8th, his final lap in the 5,000 meter race was an astonishing 56 seconds. Watching the run, Adolph Hitler asked for a personal meeting with him. Zamperini would later fight in World War II when he became a bombardier and his plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean while looking for a downed B-25. Eight out of 11 men were killed and Zamperini and another man drifted for 47 days on a small rubber raft in shark-infested waters.

He was captured by the Japanese after he reached the Marshall Islands and tortured savagely for two years.

When he returned to the United States, he suffered from post traumatic disorder. However, he would later returned to Japan to carry the Olympic torch at the Nagano Games. After becoming a born-again Christian, Zamperini set out to forgive those who tortured him. In 1950, he went to Sugamo Prison in Tokyo to meet and hug some of the war criminals from this POW camp.

Mutsuhiro_WatanabeAt age 81, Zamperini — a five-time Olympic torch-bearer — ran a leg in the torch relay for the Winter Olympics in Nagano. He used the trip to try to meet with his most brutal tormentor during the war, Mutsuhiro (“The Bird”) Watanabe. Watanabe is an absolute monster who was never prosecuted as a war criminal. He refused to meet with Zamperini and later gave an interview where he refused to apologize to him, stating “I wasn’t given military orders. Because of my own personal feelings, I treated the prisoners strictly as enemies of Japan.”

In May, Zamperini was selected to be grand marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California.

On this Independence Day, Zamperini’s extraordinary life is a reminder of those who gave up so much to maintain this Republic.

Source: LA Times

74 thoughts on “Louis Zamperini, Olympian and War Hero, Dies At 97”

  1. Bron and Nick,
    Torture is torture. It is morally repugnant if the Japanese during the Second World War and it is morally repugnant if we do it repeatedly during our so-called war on terror. Bron, go ahead and get waterboarded while not knowing if you will live or die and see if it is the same thing as a training exercise.
    Nick, I do not answer to you. I do not care if you think LZ’s torture experience was worse than what KSM endured. I am more concerned that many people on this site seem to think that torture is OK if we do it or not as bad if we do it. You do realize that people were killed during interrogations by our people during the war on terror, don’t you?

  2. No way would I expect you to cast aspirations but there you go, suggesting that I aspire to read a book. Actually, when you suggest raff’s a liar, your aspersion is to a blogger. Your aspersion about haters seems to be a general casting that has no place here.

  3. “Aspersions” not aspirations. And, we are commenters, not bloggers.

  4. Who was dissing Louis? Certainly I wasn’t. All I did was ask a question for which I didn’t know the answer. You’re casting a lot of aspirations, including suggesting that raff is a liar. If you’re referring to me, I didn’t leave because you think you won an argument. I actually have a life and don’t spend all day on this blog dissing other bloggers.

  5. Bron, The 2 are not even close. It’s just tough for some to admit it. At least the folks dissing Louis have stopped.

  6. Didn’t answer the question there, larry. But, you gave a marvelous speech! I am on the record as saying the torture of detainees is wrong. I am simply saying the torture suffered by KSM pales in comparison to the years of starvation and torture suffered by Louis. I wasn’t looking for an esoteric response on torture. I was looking for an intellectually honest answer on the fact that there are degrees of torture, just like there are degrees of most everything in this world. You just couldn’t bring yourself to admit it. At least you’re trying to defend the US haters, they seem to have run from a sinking ship. One more shot. If you had to be tortured, which one would you choose, Louis, or KSM’s.

  7. Rafflaw:

    Many progressives are very totalitarian.

    I think torture by the state should not be legal. But the torture suffered by KSM and Mr. Zamperini is not morally equivalent. While lying is not a good thing, a lie told to deceive an Islamofascist thug to prevent the destruction of human life is morally acceptable. While torture should not be done by the state, I have a hard time thinking water boarding (something
    We do to our own troops during training) is morally equivalent to what the Japanese did during WWII.

  8. Nick,
    it is always an amazing tactic to attempt to declare “victory” on your terms alone. No one wins in the torture game. It is not only immoral, it is illegal under domestic law and international law. LZ and his comrades suffered greatly. KSM suffered greatly. While you and I detest the people complicit in the torture on LZ and his fellow pow’s, consistency demands that you should detest the people complicit in the torture of KSM and others, doesn’t it?
    The Japanese government condoned or allowed the torture of LZ and his comrades, and our government under the Bush Administration allowed and condoned the torture of KSM and others. Cheney and others are even sticking to the party line and still claiming it was legal and just on television. Both examples of torture are bad and immoral. And yes Nick, I am being honest.

  9. Bron, Angelina Jolie, certainly no conservative, was so moved she bought the rights to the book and directed the movie.

  10. At least raff read the book. You notice raff did not dis Louis. He’s not a hater.

  11. Bron, The haters are plain as day, aren’t they. I often let their horseshit go. But, not w/ them dissing Louis Zamperini the day after he died. That will not stand.

  12. raff, We both read Unbroken. You and I are going to be tortured. We get to choose. We can have the torture suffered by Louis, or the torture suffered by KSM. I’ll go first, I take KSM’s, you lose, BIG TIME!! And if you’re honest, you will admit it.

  13. Bron,
    Progressives do not hate the Fourth of July. And progressives want totalitarian mindset? Where did that come from? Give us some evidence backing that amazing claim.
    Torture is torture, no matter who is doing it. No matter how many times. It was immoral for the Japanese and it was immoral for us.
    Wasn’t Khalid Sheik water boarded over 150 times alone?

  14. Nick:

    The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. The Declaration of Independence not only set the course for American liberty but for human liberty. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that many progressives don’t like it. It works against their totalitarian mindset.

  15. I am not sure you can morally equate what the Japanese did in WWII to water boarding a couple of crazy fuks who cut the heads off anyone who disagrees with their distorted and vicious
    View of life.

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