Of Louis Zamperini it was said, the only runner who could beat his time was Seabiscuit.
Before there was a United States Air Force, there was the U.S. Army Air Corps, which had a famous bombardier, Captain Louis Zamperini. Zamperini wasn't only a bombardier, he was one of the fastest men in the world--maybe THE fastest. Probably the fastest, albeit unofficially.
Zamperini, and his close friend and crew pilot, Lt. Russell Allen Phillips, had survived an areal-firestorm with Japanese zeroes and lower-based anti-aircraft weapons, blowing holes in Superman (their B24 bomber) big enough to nearly tear it to pieces. They limped it home in tatters, running on fumes and never flew the plane into action again. That was Superman's last mission of several. One crewman died from injuries sustained during that mission. Others were hurt badly, but lived. Life expectancy of Air Corps combat crews during WWII was grim at best.
Not long after, some of the Superman crew left on a search mission, attempting to locate another bomber crew, lost in the Pacific. When they arrived at their search coordinates, things went haywire, and they were forced to ditch the rickety craft they were flying in, The Green Hornet, into the ocean.
All but three of the crew died either at, or not long after impact, those being Phillips, Zamperini and Sgt. Francis McNamara.
Phillips and Zamperini survived 47 days in tiny and outrageously ill-equipped life-rafts. Two rafts for three men. In them, they drifted thousands of miles in the Pacific. During their float, they were attacked by a Japanese zero, who made several passes while firing round after round in to their little rubber crafts. Zamperini ended up in the ocean, under the raft, literally fighting off sharks with his bare hands, while bullets penetrated the rafts and whizzed through the water all around him.
All three men survived the zero gunner's attack but were left with only one leaky raft to hold all three of them, and it was shot full of holes. Miraculously, it not only stayed afloat, but they were able to repair it with tiny patches while fighting off sharks that kept lunging over the sides of it.
Many days later, McNamara died of starvation, dehydration and exposure. Phillips and Zamperini lived, spending a total of 42 days at sea before floating into Japanese territory. There they were rescued and captured by Japanese forces, becoming prisoners of war.
The men had survived one nightmare only to begin another equally as grueling and frightening as the first, but lasting much, much longer.
Hillenbrand's journaling of Zamperini's story will grab your mind and heart in the opening sentence. If her name rings a bell, it should. She also brought you the story of Seabiscuit. She delivers the real-life characters of Unbroken to you in equal excellence.
There are many people you'll get acquainted with in this book that you've probably heard of, or maybe even met, like Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington of the famous Black Sheep Squadron, or Olympic Gold Medalist, Jesse Owens, or a very young minister, who per Zamperini, spent 7-days a week pouring his heart out to small crowds in big tents, the Rev. Billy Graham.
Those are only a few ...
Please get the book and read it. The folks featured in it have sincerely earned their story to be told. Big screen's are awesome but you'll see real people with their own faces, woven into the words before they're replaced with that of an actor when the movie comes out.
Want to thank a veteran? Get this book...
This story is packed with real-life heroes, of a myriad of nationalities and I'm honored to have met many of them for the first time via Louis Zamperini and Laura Hillenbrand.
Advisory: There is one word of strong language in this book, an inclusion of a quote from an American P.O.W. while in a Japanese prison camp.
Due to that and intense situations, I'd not recommend this book to very young readers, however, I strongly encourage it as a read for young adults and up.
It is a sensational true story that should be known by everyone never forgotten, regardless of nationality.
The finish line ...
That's it for this one.
God bless you, thank you for the read and please, please, don't forget to thank a veteran at your next opportunity.
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