RIP, Incredible War Hero Louis Zamperini

Louis Zamperini lived 97 years, but the life he lived stretches far beyond the century he nearly saw to completion. Indeed, Mr. Zamperini—an Olympian, war hero, POW and all around incredible human being—has one of the more amazing life stories you’re likely to find. He’s the subject of Unbroken, an upcoming Angelina Jolie-helmed film, based on a book of the same name. The book is absolutely worth a read, but here are the bullet points.

As a boy, Zamperini set a high school record for running the mile and competed as a long distance runner in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where Hitler complimented him on his “fast finish.” He would have competed in the Tokyo games, but instead ended up in World War II as a bombardier. He was lying over the Pacific on a mission when his plane crashed and he was believed to have perished. President Roosevelt sent his parents his official condolences but, unbeknownst to anyone, Zamperini actually survived on a raft in shark-infested waters before being picked up by the Japanese some 2,000 miles from where he crashed. The Japanese imprisoned and tortured him for two years.

Upon being freed, he returned to the states where an encounter with Billy Graham convinced him to become a Christian, and he spent the rest of his life as a speaker and Christian youth worker. He skateboarded until he was 81 years old. He skied until he was 91 years old. “His wasn’t a sad story,” his biographer Laura Hillenbrand said in a statement. “It was a triumph. He left behind a lesson in the breadth of possibility for all of us, and in forgiveness” …

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