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Louis Zamperini: In His Own Words (born 1917)

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
January 27, 2023 3:00 am

Louis Zamperini: In His Own Words (born 1917)

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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January 27, 2023 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, this story was made into a 2014 motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie based on the 2010 non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. While some of the most remarkable parts of Zamperini’s story were left out of the film, you will be hearing them told now by the man himself.

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What up?

It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in.

Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. Four NFL teams, two conference championship games and only a few more shots to win big on the playoffs with DraftKings Sportsbook, an official sports betting partner of the NFL. Download the DraftKings Sportsbook app and use code DK1. New customers can bet $5 on the conference championships and get 200 in free bets instantly. Only at DraftKings Sportsbook with code DK1. 21 plus in most eligible states, but age varies by jurisdiction.

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That's They're some of our favorites. Our next story was made into a 2014 motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie based on the 2010 nonfiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken, a World War II story of survival, resilience and redemption. While some of the most remarkable parts of Zamperini's story were left out of the film, you will be hearing them told now by the man himself. And we're telling this story because on this day in 1917, Louis Zamperini was born.

We'd like to thank the folks at Vision Video for giving us access to the footage you're about to hear. Let's take a listen. My name is Louis Zamperini. I was born January 26, 1917 in Olean, New York. I moved to California for my health.

I had pneumonia. And so ever since I was two years old, I lived in Torrance, California just south of LA about 20 miles. And I'm afraid I was in constant conflict with the Torrance police. I was a rascal and I think it all started with the I couldn't speak English. And the other kids were teasing me.

They wanted to hear me swear in Italian. You know, these were your bullies, they call them today. And so my dad got me some weights and a punching bag and I started getting in shape. And so then after a few months, I started fighting back. When I started fighting back, they stopped teasing me. But in the meantime, I continued with my errant ways.

And I had been dissipating. I started smoking when I was five. And during that time, it was prohibition. But everybody made beer, wine and other things and we knew who made it. And when they're at the movies on Saturday night, we would hijack the stuff.

And even if they knew we took it, they couldn't turn us into the police or they'd go to jail. And so that was my life as a teenager until my brother got me on the track what they call an interclass track meet. And the pains of exhaustion, that's the worst. And that was it. No more running. So a week later, we're having our first duel meet with Narbonne, Narbonne High School and everybody insisted I represent the school in this race. The same 660 yard run and they finally talked me into it.

The first two runners from Narbonne had finished and the third man was ahead of me about 50 yards ago. And I wasn't about to pass him, you know, until the students, 1000 students from my high school started screaming come on Louie. Well, those were beautiful words to me because I had no idea that anyone at all knew my name.

I hear 1000 students hollering come on Louie and that tasted pretty good. And I just got up a little adrenaline I suppose and I finally nipped this guy at the table about six inches and came in third. So after that I thought about that recognition. That was important to me and I think it's important to all athletes.

The thing that inspires you and creates a desire to go ahead and become a champion is recognition. And so that night I had to make a decision and that was no doubt the first wise decision of my life. I decided to go all out to become a runner. Now considering my life you think that was an impossibility. My family thought it was an impossibility, my brother thought, but I made up my mind and I became a fanatic trainer.

No more dessert. I ran everywhere, no hitchhiking. Redondo them back four miles, Saramosa them back. I'd run like 12 miles on a Saturday. I'd hit the mountains, run around lakes, jump and I got to where I liked it. I was not getting tired anymore and fatigued and I enjoyed mainly not running around the track but running in the wilderness.

And jumping over streams I can remember on a number of occasions chasing deer down a hill just for the fun of it. And so all that running and in those days there were no stopwatches around so I had no idea how fast I was running, didn't even care. I just started enjoying running and finally at the end of summer the first running race was Far West AU, cross country at UCLA, two miles with about 101 runners. When the race was over I won by a quarter of a mile or over a quarter and I couldn't believe it.

I said no I'm sure I cut a corner, I wouldn't take credit for winning. And the officials said no all the talents are in, you passed every checkpoint. And they said by the way you broke all three records, class A, class B and class C and you ran the two miles in 957 which was comparable to college running when I was a sophomore in high school. So that did it, I knew that hard work was the answer and from then on I never lost a race for three and a half years. The second best 5,000 meter runner in America was coming to California to run, to draw a big crowd and so forth and my brother said I want you to train, you got two weeks, I want you to run against this guy. We had no hopes of the Olympics, just run against him to see how close you can get to a fellow who's going to make the Olympic team and that would have been a victory in itself. And I caught him at the table about two inches so I knew that I could beat him, the second best runner in America and this gave me the possibility of making the team. Now I didn't think about the team at that time until the next day when I got a call from the newspaper that the Olympic committee had called Torrance to tell him that I qualified for the Olympic tryouts at Ramblings Island, New York.

And again it wasn't important to win, I made the team. And so I'm on this ship now with all these great athletes and they were all my heroes, you know, I'm going around meeting all the athletes and got off the ship at Hamburg and off to Berlin and then they took us into the most beautiful Olympic village ever made. And it was gorgeous, fenced in, animals running loose lakes, stormtroopers walking through and we'd give them the Heil Hitler salute with a big laugh on their face. They knew we were kidding, they'd salute back. If we said Heil Adolf they'd say Heil Hitler or vice versa.

And so they were a lot of fun. And you're listening to the voice of the one and only Louis Zamperini, raised in Torrance, California, as he said a self-proclaimed rascal in his youth. But hearing those words, come on Louis, it chanted by students. That recognition, well that was all the fuel he needed.

It lit a fire in this young man. And he said, it was the first wise decision in my life to become a runner. When we come back, more of this remarkable life story, Louis Zamperini's story here on Our American Story. Here at Our American Stories, we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith and love. Stories from a great and beautiful country that need to be told.

But we can't do it without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love our stories and America like we do, please go to our American and click the donate button. Give a little, give a lot. Help us keep the great American stories coming.

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21 and over in most eligible states, but age varies by jurisdiction. Eligibility restrictions apply. See sportsbook for details and state specific responsible gambling resources. Gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

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That's 855-512-GOLD. This segment is sponsored by Novo Nordisk. Weight loss. It's a constant cycle.

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Learn more about the science behind the weight loss at And we're back with our American stories. Let's return to Louis Zamperini and where he left off with his arrival to Berlin, Germany to compete as a 19-year-old distance runner in the 1936 Summer Olympics, also known as the Nazi Olympics. So I got in the semi-finals and fortunately I made the finals. And the last lap comes and I'm 50 yards behind the leaders. Something my brother had taught me when I was, I used to complain about the third lap of the mile being tired. And he said, well, so were the other runners. They're all human beings.

They're all tired. But think of it this way. You got a lap to go about one minute.

Isn't one minute of pain worth a lifetime of glory? And I never forgot that. And so I opened up the last lap and I caught the leaders coming down the home stretch. So I did come in with the leaders.

And in doing so, the coach said, you just ran your last quarter in 50 seconds, which was considered impossible for a distance runner. And that evidently caught the attention of Adolf Hitler. He was there every day. And I go back to my box after my shower and an officer comes over and says, Hitler wants to meet you. First he asked for my name.

I said, I didn't want anything. You know, he was shaking hands with the gold medalist. And he said, well, he wants to meet you.

So I went over to him and he just reached down, shook my hand and simply said, the boy with ah, he said, ah, yeah, the boy with the fast finish. And that was it. So I met the Fuhrer, didn't mean anything, but ah, my opinion of him was the same opinion that Marty Gluckman had and all the others. He looked like a comedian and the way he acted, stomping his feet, pounding his legs and face and mustache and all that.

Ah, so that was my opinion of him. Ah, well, the games are over and ah, we collected souvenirs. All the Olympians did, remind them of their, ah, Olympic ah, trip and ah, now I'm back home entering USC as a freshman. And now 1940 Tokyo Olympics, we're all aiming for that. And suddenly we get the announcement, headlines in the papers, the Olympics are canceled. Well, it was quite a blow, you know. Ah, adults really couldn't understand it, but for a kid who's been aiming for four years for one race and you're going to hit your peak of your life at that particular year, that was hard to take. Ah, until Pearl Harbor was hit.

And of course we forgot all about being athletes and ah, like all other Americans, we are one mind of one accord, one purpose. Get in the war quickly, get it over with as soon as possible. However, I did run in Hawaii to keep in shape. And even though General Arnold in charge of the Air Force, through a friend, he was a friend of mine indirectly. Ah, but they wouldn't allow me to go back because our bomb group was a special bomb group and experimental. We were the first to use the heaviest bomb of the war for dive bombing. So we had a lot of missions up and down the Marshall and Gilberts, bombing Macon and Tarawa and Wojie and all those islands in and out. We had a few local search missions looking for submarines. And then we came back and after a mission you get a couple of days off.

And we're heading for the main gate on the way to Honoru Island. And ah, the operations officer comes skidding up in the jeep and says ah, we just got a report of B-25 that's gone down 200 miles north of Palmyra. Now the cloud cover Brokenshauser at 1,000 feet, that's our search mission height. And ah, swinging around here and there looking for debris in the water, life rafts, anything we could find. And ah, suddenly the RPMs dropped on one motor, oil pressure to zero. And ah, the pilot immediately called the new engineer and he was so excited to do his job he came up and nervously feathered the wrong motor. Now this plane could not fly ah, normally on four motors. He couldn't get off the ground with a bomb load.

It was ah, the green hornet was a lemon. And ah, with one motor out the plane was having trouble. And now when he feathered the wrong motor the plane just heeled over and went down left wing first 45 degrees into the water and exploded. Ah, the pilot and tail gunner were fortunately blown free of the wreckage. And then as the tail snapped off the control wires which are heavy wires that are ah, springing. So when the wires break the coil up.

So when they snap the wires coil around the tripod and I'm in the middle I can't get loose and out with the wires there's no hopeless situation. And so I just thought well this is it, this is it, I'm dead. And ah, so I started sinking, my ears popped and that usually happens around 25, 30 feet. And ah, then as I sank deeper something I never had happened before I felt like someone was being the finest with a sledge hammer. And ah, then I lost consciousness. And of course I'm sinking, I'm still sinking so the pressure has got to be getting greater. And ah, when I, then I lost consciousness.

And then for some unknown reason I'm conscious again. I'm freed, I'm loosened from that section of the ship. I'm flailing around with my arms trying to find something to grab onto.

And fortunately my USC ring which was on this finger was bearing the white star still there. Ah, snagged onto the waste window and I knew that was the waste window by the feel. I grabbed it with my other hand, watched my back out of the window, inflated my life jacket and popped to the surface. And there I saw my two buddies who were now hanging onto a gas tank. Ah, they were both in a state of shock, screaming help. And the pilots head was bleeding profusely with a cut artery.

And ah, there's no way I can help them. If I swim over to help them we're all dead. But I saw a life raft that had ejected from the plane automatically. And so there's a hundred foot cord dragging behind the life raft. So I'm trying to swim to the life raft with shoes on, clothes and it's impossible. Even in a swimsuit I couldn't have caught that life raft.

The currents were that vicious. But as I almost gave up swimming this cord was going by my face. Couldn't see it in the water. And I grabbed the last two or three feet and I reeled in the raft and I got to the pilot and co-pilot, fell on the board, put a, I took two t-shirts, made a wet compress, put on the cuts, tied it with the other t-shirt very tightly so it wouldn't bleed anymore and I laid him back. And ah, then I started thinking about that escape.

That really bugged me. And ah, I kept thinking of any kind of a logical answer for my escape and I just couldn't find one. So I gave up thinking about it. Instead I started praying and thanking God for sparing my life.

Well my buddy saw this guy, they started to pray with me. And then it wasn't long after that the tail gunner panicked and began to scream. Something dawned on him what happened. We're all gonna die he said. I said Mack, nobody's gonna die.

We're gonna die old guy. I said Mack, nobody's gonna die. And then I told him to shut up. I said if you don't shut up I'm gonna make a report on you to the military when we get back. And ah, he still kept screaming so I tried to use child psychology on him and that didn't work. So I thought I'd give him a double shock and this is the last resort a good shock treatment so I turned my back on and I came around with my, the back of my hand and cracked him hard across the face. He laid back in the raft content. And he was okay for maybe five days or a week and then I had to do it again.

But it always seemed to work. And he never griped it, I just laid back and seemed to enjoy it. So ah, our menu of course now is ah, for the next 47 days there's ah, what birds, fish, and water we could catch and of course the birds and the fish we simply ate raw. Three albatross, well we actually caught four albatross. We caught the first one we caught, we just ripped it open and the smell was enough we threw it overboard. The second one we caught I said we gotta eat some part of it you know. And ah, so we took the breast and we tried to take a bite out of the breast a piece and tried to chew it up and swallow it and we just barely swallowed one mouthful and again we threw it overboard and used parts of it for bait and we did catch a small fish. We divided that in three ways and that wasn't bad, raw fish. And then ah, a lot of time went by before we got another albatross. Not at all y'all, another albatross. We opened it up and man I'll say it was like a hot spud sunny with nut on it.

We ate everything eyeballs. And what a story you're hearing Louis Zamperini tell. Hitler wants to meet you he was told after that last final burst of speed. And by the way he did not tell the story here of him seizing the Nazi flag and stealing it and taking it home. That's a heck of a story we couldn't tell every bit and part of this story. But he did it and he did it because well why not.

He was still well a rascal in the end. He goes to USC he wants to compete in the 1940 Olympics. That doesn't happen they're canceled. Then comes Pearl Harbor. His life is changed. He takes on dangerous missions and soon finds himself stranded in the Pacific with a few buddies. 47 days hanging on for dear life to be rescued.

When we come back more of this remarkable life story the voice of Louis Zamperini from the grave born on this day in 1917 here on Our American Story. For NFL teams two conference championship games and only a few more shots to win big on the playoffs with DraftKings Sportsbook an official sports betting partner of the NFL. Counting down to Super Bowl 57 new customers can bet just five dollars and get two hundred dollars in free bets instantly. Download the DraftKings Sportsbook app and use promo code timer. New customers can bet five dollars on the conference championships and get two hundred and free bets instantly only at DraftKings Sportsbook with promo code timer.

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So don't miss what could be your best opportunity to protect your retirement savings. Call eight five five five one two gold. That's eight five five five one two gold. This segment is sponsored by Novo Nordisk. Weight loss. It's a constant cycle.

Am I right? It feels like our bodies are working against us pushing back on our progress. We lose weight and our bodies try to gain it right back. Sure losing weight is challenging but keeping the weight off is just as hard. In fact people with excess weight generally make seven serious attempts at weight loss.

Seven. But guess what it's not all our fault and we have the science to back it up. One study shows that by partnering with health care providers it may be possible to lose up to five times as much weight compared to trying to do it solo. Together you can develop a plan to manage your weight and the impact of weight related health issues like high blood pressure and type two diabetes. Talk to a health care provider and ask if FDA approved medicine could help with losing weight and maintaining the results.

Learn more about the science behind the weight loss at truth about weight dot com. And we return to our American stories and to Louis Zamperini's story. The year is 1941 while serving as a bombardier on a search and rescue mission in the B-24 Liberator in the Pacific. Zamperini's plane experienced mechanical difficulties and crashed into the ocean. Let's pick up where we last left off. Before we went seven days without water on the 27th day we heard motors and you can imagine our excitement. We shot flares through water dying in the ocean, flickered our mirrors, the plane came down and flew low as they came towards us. We had our shirts off you know waving our shirts, tears in our eyes, boy we're going to be with the Marines tonight on Palmyra and then machine gunning. Water splashed off you know coming out and just missed us. And then I saw the red circle. I knew it was a Sally bomber which was comparable to our B-25 and so that went on, they strayed us for about 30 minutes. I was in the water with two sharks while the other two stayed in the raft and every time I came up I knew they were dead.

But they were alive and they weren't touched. Missed by an eighth of an inch, quarter inch, half inch and this was just unbelievable. And I'm in the water with two sharks and of course I'm taught how to evade sharks. The last resort is straight on me. Just stay there, they'll come up slowly, they'll stop, size you up and then they'll come at you.

And you got plenty of time to get your hand up there and catch them on the end of the nose and they usually just take off. And that worked. But after about 30 minutes we decided we were in a hopeless situation. The raft was now wrinkled, laying flat in the water.

There's no chance. We've got to pretend we're dead. So we pretend we were dead. And the plane evidently bypassed us that round but made a big circle and we thought they were going back to base but they decided on one more run. And this time as they came directly on course this time instead of off course I looked out of the corner of my eye and I saw the bomb bay door open and I thought, oh no, this is it. They dropped the depth charge. It was a canister. Now we dropped bombs on submarines. They dropped a canister and it lit about 50 feet away which would have killed us. But the canister was improperly armed and sank to the bottom harmlessly. They did turn around then and leave us.

Boy, what a relief. And then we had to start pumping that raft. With sharks around, we're right level with the water. We're pumping like mad, taking turns and barely got the raft up again. And now the holes are about the size of a 22 hole.

That's a 7.7 millimeter I think. And if you saw the inner tube pull a hole through the swimming pool it would not sink. That was our situation. Then we settled back in the raft after eight days which it took us about eight days to get the raft decently patched up. And then the only real big storm we had during the entire time and it was monstrous. It was like 25 to 40 feet and that was far more frightening than the Japanese airplane and far more frightening than the sharks. And we survived that, well I should say the two of us survived that. The tail gunner died on the 33rd day and we buried him at sea.

And so the next day of course there were big swells and we're on top of the swell where I see land for the first time. And we knew we were going to drift into the islands but we also knew these were held by the Japanese so we had to be real careful and try to find a geosurgeon island. And we were about to land on one island when the Japanese patrol boat came around a point and spotted us. And you know you've got about 25 guys with rifles aimed at you.

One guy with a machine gun. You know we were so blessed that we couldn't really laugh but inside we were laughing. Then they threw us a rope and pulled us aboard. We couldn't even crawl.

We were that weak. And sat us on the deck of the ship and hit us with a pistol in the face. But they did give us a drink of water and a biscuit. They were taking the WOJI in there, weighed in at 30 kilo, about, I don't know, 65 pounds.

So I lost about almost 100. And there we were treated decently. They pulled the raft out from the boat and counted the holes, 48 holes. And I told them, I told them the day, the 27th day on the raft, the date that the Japanese pilot strafed us. You should be able to find out who that pilot was. Oh no, Japanese pilot wouldn't do that. But he did it. So they wouldn't accept that.

Even with the evidence. Two days later we're told we're going aboard a steamer heading for another island. And after you leave this island we cannot guarantee your life.

So we're heading for a kwaj. And we knew through the scuttlebutt that it was considered execution island. We were blindfolded. The ocean, 47 days out there, all you saw was that endless sky.

And the Pacific Ocean is what, 65 million square miles, the endless ocean. Now I'm blindfolded. And when I'm inside that shell, which is two feet wide by six feet deep and six feet long, they take my blindfold off, my eyes just jump all over the place. I couldn't believe where I was. And this had a terrible effect on me. I just, in the corner of that shell I just sat there and looked at my skeletal frame and just started to cry.

Two months ago I was a vigorous athlete and here I am a skeleton. And then our new guard came on duty after about a week and he simply looked in and said, you Christian, me Christian. That's all he could say. Well in Japan at that time you didn't admit you were a Christian, not in Japan. And of course I thought I was and I said, no me, Christian, Christian. So we started to chat on paper. We draw a picture for the name and so forth. And two days later he got his monthly candy ration and shared it with me.

Unbelievable. Every day of course we'd, in the morning we would think about execution. Will this be the morning? Will this be the morning? And then an officer came in one day and said, you will go to the Oklahoma Civil War on the Japanese, with the Japanese fleet.

Up to a sacred camp in the hills of Ofuna. And there I'm shoved into a room and told to stand and wait for further orders. And so I stand there and I see the back of a man's head and then he turns around, leans back in the chair and looks at me and laughs. And he didn't have to say, remember me? I knew him well at USC for three and a half years, James Sasaki. And finally he says, I came back to Japan after USC and became Admiral Sasaki, that civilian rank of admiral, head of all interrogation all over Japan, 91 prison camps. And we talked about USC, the bacon and egg vectors on the campus.

He was talking about that kind of food, so they weren't getting it. And then he said, well, we'll see each other from time to time. They call him Jimmy. Jimmy Sasaki had a high frequency transmitter just off of Torrance Boulevard, a short distance from the Edison substation, where he made broadcasts daily to the Japanese government. Then it says he left by boat two days before a raid by the FBI and CIA.

And finally transferred to what they call headquarters camp on Maury between Yokohama, Tokyo on a man-made island. And there I meet the nightmare of my life, the bird. I come in there, he lines us up to the by and looks at me and I couldn't look in his eye.

I looked away and he said, why are you not looking in my eye? Bang. So I'm knocked down. I get up, knocked down again.

So I'm punched out every day for the first 10 days. And I knew who the boss was, that's for sure. And so he was so brutal, the other guys, we gave him vile, filthy name. We didn't give him a filthy name.

We simply call him the bird because if he did find out through scuttlebutt that we named him a certain name, then we're really in for trouble. And you've been listening to Louis Zamperini tell the story of his capture by the Japanese. Forty-seven days in the ocean. The sharks were tough. The gunfire from enemy Japanese planes was tough.

What was tougher is surviving a wicked storm with 35 foot plus waves. Then he's transferred to execution island. He catches a glimpse of himself and all he saw was a skeleton frame. And he just started crying every morning.

He thought about one thing is execution. And then he's transferred to another camp where he meets his tormentor, the bird. When we come back, more of this remarkable life story, the story of Louis Zamperini born on this day in 1917 here on our American stories. We'll be right back. We'll be right back. We'll be right back. We'll be right back.

We'll be right back. And we return to our American stories and to Louis Zamperini's story. When we last left off in his story, he described a Japanese internment prison guard known as the bird. The bird was so deranged that General Douglas MacArthur named him as one of the most wanted war criminals in Japan. Let's continue with Louis Zamperini.

Now he was a son of a wealthy family. He flunked out of officer schools. They had him for officers. And I can remember when we had a B-29 raid, he called all the Americans out.

And he separated the officers from the enlisted men. And then he had all the lowest rank enlisted men, just to shame us, buck privates, faced us, and each one had to punch us and knock us down. And they wouldn't hit us hard. They'd hit us easy and then they'd get hit with a club. Hey, hit us hard, knock us down, get it over with. So we had to take a full blow in the face, down on the ground. And so that's the way he was. He took it out on officers, always.

Officers got the punishment. But about another week went by and I believe there were six or seven of us lined up, put on a train. And now we're crossing Tokyo. But see, in the meantime, they had the big fire raid on Tokyo, which we saw from our vantage point. We saw the sky aglow all night and half the next day.

And we put on the train and we go right to that charred waste. And all we could say for miles, 19 square miles of charred, you know, bamboo hutch or whatever, wooden shacks. But the only thing we were able to identify were the hundreds of lanes that the Japanese did.

They did like the Germans. Their factory was bombed, but it didn't slow them down because the big factory, the industrial complex at the point of Tokyo, they only had part of their machinery there. The rest of it was in the civilian homes. And I remember going to the slaughterhouse to pick up our meat, which was horse guts, in a wheelbarrow. And I used to see these transformers and I thought, my golly, for this little house, I'd look back and I'd see a lathe, great big $25,000 lathe and the guys working, making parts. And all down the street. So it was really strange to see the only thing not burned were all those machines.

And that was the reason Truman had the firebomb in Tokyo was because that was the industrial complex. So while we're going north 12 hours to Waiju and Nagano and down to the ocean to Naletu, and we get to the prison compound, we have to stand there to test them and wait for further order. And we waited and watched the front door of the guard shack and whoever was in there was making us wait purposely. And we waited and waited and waited and the door opened and out steps the bird. Well, my knees buckled.

I just couldn't believe it. I just thought, you know, I'm a guy that never gives up. But I got to the point where I just thought, it's hopeless, hopeless. I can't escape this guy.

And so I got back to attention and then I had to put up with him all over again. So then about eight days before the war's over, we get one of the guards came to me and said, a sad thing happened in Japan. A city called Hiroshima, cholera broke out. No one's allowed to go in. It's quarantine. And we thought that was sad.

So the whole nation of Japan knew that Hiroshima was acidic, quarantine was cholera. And then about eight days later, we're told to pay PW on the roof. And we heard rumors about the war being over for two years.

So it didn't mean much. But we wouldn't believe it till we saw a TVF fly over the river. And they saw all the prisoners in the river, and they flashed on their red light, dah, dah, dah. And the radio man picked it up, the war's over.

So then we rushed up to the compound and began to wave at the plane, he circled and circled. Then he dropped the red ribbon. On the end of it was a candy bar with a bite out of it. And a pack of cigarettes with two cigarettes gone. And yet 350 men got a puff of cigarette and we all got a sliver of candy.

Pretty good. That evening, he came back and we looked like a body falling. It was a pair of Navy pants tied at the bottom and top and carton of cigarettes and candy and Commander Fitzgerald of the Grenadier Submarine. The ranking officer, he opens the pants and right on the top was a magazine. And he just stood there silently looking at that picture of the atomic bomb. Because we'd never heard of it. And he kept looking at it and the other officers walked up. We all looked over his shoulder and looked at that picture. And then I realized the date of the cholera at Hiroshima.

That the same dates were actually what happened with the bomb and the Japanese pulled their eyes over the general public by telling them it was cholera. That was the best thing they could have done. So finally the bird, two days before we knew, actually knew the war was over, the bird disappeared. We had a 70 pound rock on the second floor right over the river and a rope. We had it hidden away in the bulk of the building and we were going to grab him, tie the rock on him and throw him over into the river. That was our intention.

But he flew the coupe so we didn't see him again. The other guys all started buying the scraping and we talked to our farm and we knew they had families at home that weren't eating too well. And typical American, we started giving the guards food to take home to their children and stuff like that, candy. In fact, when the war was over, sleeping in tents on the way home, I still had nightmares about the bird.

I'm Italian, I have to have revenge and when he's torturing me and punishing me, I'm giving him revenge in my heart. And my hands are clenched, I got him by the throat. And that was in my dreams every night, every night, every night.

I got home, it was the same thing at home. I got married, I still had the nightmares. In the meantime, I started drinking because of that. But before I started drinking heavily, I started training for the 48 Olympics. And I did get in good shape.

And then when I had my knee give out and my ankle and muscle spasm or like an explosion in my calf, I couldn't train anymore. And I gave that up and that really hurt me. And so I started drinking more and more. And my wife decided it's time for a divorce. And somebody in our apartment house was telling me about a fellow named Billy Graham.

We never heard of him. They talked my wife into going down to hear Billy Graham. He made a decision for the Lord, came home that night, tried to talk me into it. And I said, keep away from it.

I don't want to hear any more about religion. And she said something that really struck me in the heart and that was, and because of my decision, I'm not going to get a divorce. So that was good news. And but the next day she was all over me and I refused to go. Finally, they more or less tricked me into going down to hear Billy.

And there he's preaching, you know, for all of sin. Well, I knew I was a sinner. I didn't like the idea of him reminding me. It just gave me an excuse to leave. I got mad, grabbed my wife, pulled her home and the next day she's all over me again. And so I finally consented on a return trip. And I said, well, when he finishes his sermon, I said, everyhow, head bowed, I'm getting out.

Okay. So back we went and kept quoting scripture from the Bible. And I knew what I should do, but I didn't want to do it. And then as I started to leave the tent, I started thinking back on the, on the raft. When our lives were spared, we did pray morning, noon, and night. And we prayed constantly on the raft. My prayer was always God saved my life and I'll seek you and serve you.

And here I am home alive. My prayers were answered and they completely turned my back on those promises. That hit me pretty hard before I got to the aisle where I decided to turn out. No, I stopped momentarily. It made my decision, went back to the prayer room and it made my confessional faith in Christ.

And there a miracle took place. My life completely changed. I had a turnabout. I knew that I was through getting drunk. I knew it obviously for myself. I knew I'd forgiven all my guards. I knew I'd forgiven the bird. And I think proof of that was that that night I didn't have a nightmare for the first time. And it's been two and a half years. And since the war and I had a nightmare every night.

And now from 1949 till this day, I still never had a nightmare or even the slightest inkling of a nightmare. And so when I met with the studio to make the movie with Universal, the producer was hearing all the things the bird did to me. And I'm sitting at this meeting like this, listening to these fellows talk. And finally he's getting really uptight and he jumped up and said, Louie, Louie, how could you forgive that so and so? And I stood up and I said, well, I can only give you one verse in the Bible why I could forgive him. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new person.

All things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new. And he looked at me. I didn't know what he was going to do. And he rushed over and grabbed me around the waist, picked me up and said, we're going to make this into a major film. So I thought that was pretty neat.

Him being Jewish and not mentioned in Christ. So that was the climax. That was just beautiful.

So that's my story. And what a voice you just heard. That is Louie Zamperini from the grave in heaven sharing his story for all to hear about how Jesus saved his life, made those nightmares disappear and renewed his life and his marriage. And a special thanks to Greg Hengler as always for the editing on that piece.

And thanks to Vision Video. God saved my life and I will seek and serve you. He prayed on that boat. I turned my back on God, but then I came to Christ. My life completely changed. I forgave the bird. My nightmare has ended. Louie Zamperini born on this day in 1917.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-27 04:13:06 / 2023-01-27 04:31:56 / 19

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