Who was Louis Zamperini?
Captain Louis Zamperini was born in Olean, New York in 1917 to parents that had immigrated to the United States from Italy. They moved to Torrance, California during the 1920's. He graduated from Torrance High School and the University of Southern California
Zamperini grew up during the depression on Gramercy Place in Torrance. A troubled youth was turned around when he developed an interest in running. In 1933, as a sophomore at Torrance High School, he showed his first signs of greatness by winning the Southern California Small Schools cross country championship. The following year (1934) he broke the National Interscholastic Mile record at the Southern California finals with a time of 4:21.2, a record he held for 22 years. Later that year he place first at the California State Meet. As a senior in 1935, Zamperini was the Los Angeles City mile winner (Torrance High was at that time part of the Los Angeles School District)
In 1936, at the age of 19, Zamperini participated in the United States Olympic Trials. He was the victor at 5000 meters, earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team bound for Berlin, Germany. At the Games he only finished eighth, but he was the first American to cross the finish line
Returning from the Olympics, Zamperini attended USC and resumed his track endeavors. He was the 1939 and 1940 NCAA mile champion and place high in the 1938 and 1939 National AAU mile. During this time he competed with some legendary American milers including Glenn Cunningham, Gene Venzke and Archie San Romani. Had the 1940 Olympics been held (they were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II), almost certainly Zamperini would have made the team.
During Word War II, Zamperini Air Force plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and he and a friend were adrift at sea for 47 days without food or water. They were eventually captured by the Japanese and endured great tortures during the two years of captivity.
A devout Christian, Mr. Zamperini has devoted himself for the past half-century to the betterment of his fellow man. His humanitarian deeds are great in number and appreciated throughout the country. His remarkable life, with its many triumphs and ordeals, has been chronicled in his autobiography, Devil at My Heels. A television documentary has been shown and a long awaited feature film based on his new book Unbroken opened in December 2014.
Mr. Zamperini, we thank you and we appreciate all you've done for our Torrance community and the community of mankind.
" Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it "......... 1 Cor. 9:24