Louis Zamperini.

by; Clarissa Ontiveros

Who is he?

Louis Zamperini was a US Prisoner during war who spent 47 years living on a raft in the Pacific Ocean. He was also in the Olympic games and was the youngest distance runner that ever made and olympic team.

His experinces with world war 2.

Zamperini enlisted in the army air corps in 1941, after a 1940 olympics contest he planned to do was cancelled, because the start of world war 2 was coming. There was several times Zamperini was close to death, one being a time where his plane was attacked by Japanese fighter planes, the plane hardly avoided a crash landing and had almost 600 bullet holes.

Lost At Sea.

On May 27, 1943, Zamperini was involved in a search/rescue mission over the Pacific ocean when their plane lost power to 2 of their engines and their plane crashed into the sea. Only 3 out of the original 11 men survived the plane crash, which was Louis Zamperini, the tail gunner Francis McNamara and the pilot Russell Allen Phillips. They originally had 3 life rafts to survive on until 2 of them were destroyed by Japanese machine gunners. They were surviving on rain water and the rare captured bird or fish, causing major dehydration and starvation, which caused McNamara to die after 33 days.

Getting captured.

Phillips and Zamperini were captured near the Marshall islands, 2,000 miles from where they originally were, by the Japanese Navy. They were first sent to the island of Kwajalein and held for 6 weeks. Zamperini was then moved to the Japanese Mainland. From there he was sent to 3 different POW camps and interrogation areas. He was there for over two years and in that time he suffered from disease, starvation, daily beating from the guards, and exposure.

Mutsuhiro/prisoner camps.

Mutsuhiro was a guard a very violent guard at one of the camps. This man would hit Zamperini with clubs, belts, and fists and threatened to kill him daily. Mutsuhiro once forced Zamperini to hold a very heavy wooden beam above his head for a large amount of time and Mutsuhiro told him if he were to drop it, he would kill him. The guard would also force Zamperini and other American prisoners to physically fight each other until most were knocked out.

The Japanese using him.

At one point, the Japanese used Zamperini as propaganda. On the brightside being a former Olympian saved Zamperini from being killed by the, but it also singled him out for more punishment, because he was a valuable American. At one camp, they would force him to race against Japanese, and beat him with clubs if he won. Everyone in America thought Zamperini was long dead by then, until Japanese at Radio Tokyo persuaded him into reading propaganda messages on their radio. He agreed only to read a message telling his parents he was alive, and even though they were threatening to send him to punishment camps, he refused to do anything more.

After war.

Even though the war had ended, Zamperini would never be able to forget the experiences he had encountered. He did not get back into running, instead he turned to being an alcoholic to help him cope with the nightmares and flashbacks he said daily. Luckily, he recovered from those things and became a Christian. Zamperini went back to Japan where Japanese war criminals were being held, and shook hands with the guards that had beat him. Mutsuhiro watanabe was not captured, but Zamperini wrote him a letter telling him that he forgave him, and even tried to meet with him but was not successful. This shows Zamperini was a very strong and intelligent man who definitely had a good head on his shoulders, and will be missed as he passed away July 2, 2014.