The Louis Zamperini Interview: Unbroken and more
'King of the Mile' Glenn Cunningham was a real hero of mine... he did the impossible. He was burnt as a child from his arms to his legs to his feet to his back and the doctors said he would never walk again.
By Gary Cohen, GaryCohenRunning.com
Louis Zamperini placed eighth in the 5000 meters at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in 14:46.8 where he was a roommate of Jesse Owens and met Adolph Hitler. Louis qualified for the Olympic team in his second time ever racing 5000 meters, tying for first place at the 1936 Olympic Trials with Don Lash. He was a two-time NCAA Mile champion in 1938 and 1939 at the University of Southern California, his NCAA meet record of 4:08.3 lasting 15 years.
Louie was the California State Mile champion in high school and in 1934, he established an interscholastic record of 4:21.2 which stood for 19 years. His Personal Records are: 880y – 1:53.2 (1938); 1500 – 3:52.6 (1939); Mile – 4:07.9 (1940); 2 Miles – 9:12.8 (1939); 5000 – 14:46.8 (1936). In 1941 Louis joined the Army Air Corps, his plane was shot down in 1943, he survived 47 days at sea and was a prisoner of war for two years. Captain Zamperini's awards include the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters; the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster; the Philippine Liberation Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and American Campaign Medal with battle stars. After World War II he became a Christian speaker, was founder of Victory Boys’ Camps for delinquent children and remains a youth counselor at his church. Louis carried the Olympic Flame in the torch relay in 1984, 1996 and 1998.
He co-wrote a book entitled, ‘Devil at My Heels,’ and is the subject of the bestseller, ‘Unbroken,’ by Laura Hillebrand. Louis graduated from Torrance High School and the University of Southern California. Locations bearing his name are Zamperini Stadium at Torrance High School, Zamperini Airfield in Torrance, and Louis Zamperini Plaza at USC. The 94-year-old resides in the Los Angeles, California area and was married to Cynthia Applewhite for 55 years until cancer took her in 2001. They have two children, Cissy and Luke.
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