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Colonel Michael C. Howard, USMC (Ret.), who worked with Captain William Rudich, USN (Ret.), Lieutenant Colonel Todd Holmquist, USMC, Major Heather Cotoia, USMC, Boatswain’s Mate Chief Frank Weber, USN (Ret.), and Jim Heath, PhD, professor emeritus, Portland State University, to find information on Everett Almond, the navigator who was killed by a shark while trying to save himself and his pilot.

Thanks also to Pete Golkin, Office of Communications, National Air and Space Museum; Midge Fischer, EAA Warbirds of America; Patrick Ranfranz, Greg Babinski, and Jim Walsh of the 307th Bomb Group Association; Lieutenant Commander Ken Snyder of the National Naval Aviation Museum; Rich Kolb and Mike Meyer of the Veterans of Foreign Wars; Helen Furu of the Norwegian Maritime Museum; Siri Lawson of WarSailors.com; Phil Gudenschwager, 11th Bomb Group historian; Justin Mack, Web developer, 11th Bomb Group; Bill Barrette, Sugamo historian; Wayne Weber of the Billy Graham Center archives at Wheaton College; Melany Ethridge of Larry Ross Communications; Tess Miller and Heather VanKoughnett of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Shirley Ito, librarian, LA84 Foundation; Victoria Palmer, Georgetown Public Library; Edith Miller, Palo Alto High School; Wayne Wilson, vice president, Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles; Lauren Walser of USC Trojan Family magazine; Cheryl Morris, Alumni Records, Princeton; Parker Bostwick of the Torrance News Torch; and Eric Spotts of Torrance High School.

Others who assisted me include my dear friend Alan Pocinki, who has helped me in more ways than I can count; Linda Goetz Holmes, author of Unjust Enrichment; Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers; Morton Janklow; Dave Tooley; Karen and Russ Scholar; William Baker, professor emeritus, University of Maine; John Powers of NorthChinaMarines.com; Ken Crothers; Christine Hoffman; Bud Ross; John Chapman; Robin Rowland; Ed Hotaling; Morton Cathro; Chris McCarron; Bob Curran; Mike Brown; Richard Glover; Jim Teegarden of pbyrescue.com; Tom Gwynne of Wingslip; Cheryl Cerbone, editor, Ex-POW Bulletin; Clydie Morgan, Ex American Prisoners of War; Mike Stone of accident-report.com; Dr. Stanley Hoffman; Kathy Hall; Jim Deasy; Captain Bob Rasmussen, USN (Ret.); Thorleif Andreassen; Janet McIlwain; Gary Staffo; Lynn Gamma; Patrick Hoffman; and Gene Venske.

——

There are several people to whom I owe special thanks. My brother John Hillenbrand, a longtime private pilot, reviewed the aircraft and flying sections of my book with an extraordinarily careful eye and helped me understand the arcane details of aeronautics. My sister, Susan Avallon, read and reread the manuscript, offered invariably brilliant suggestions, and talked me through the places that had me stumped. Susan and John, I am so lucky to be your little sister. I also thank EQUUS magazine editor Laurie Prinz and my old Kenyon friend Chris Toft, who read my manuscript and gave me insightful suggestions.

The author of the beautifully written Finish Forty and Home: The Untold Story of B-24s in the Pacific, Phil Scearce, knows the world of the AAF’s Pacific airmen better than any other historian. As I wrote this book, Phil was singularly generous, sharing his voluminous research, directing me to sources, and helping me sort through many a quandary. I am forever in his debt.

I have great gratitude for B-29 navigator and former POW Raymond “Hap” Halloran. As I wrote this book, Hap became my almost daily email correspondent, offering me research help, sharing his photographs, telling of his experiences, sending gifts to cheer my sister’s children after their father’s death, and simply being my friend. Very few human beings have seen humanity’s dark side as Hap has, and yet he is ever buoyant, ever forgiving. Hap’s resilient heart is my inspiration.

From the beginning of this project, I worked with two translators in Japan. They did so much more for me than mere translation, teaching me about their culture, helping me to understand the war from the Japanese perspective, and offering their thoughts on my manuscript. Because the war remains a highly controversial issue in Japan, they have asked me not to identify them, but I will never forget what they have done for me and for this book.

If I had a firstborn, I’d owe it to my editor, Jennifer Hershey. Jennifer was infinitely kind and infinitely patient, offering inspired suggestions on my manuscript, making countless accommodations for my poor health, and ushering me from first draft to last. I also thank my spectacularly talented agent, Tina Bennett, who guides me through authordom with a sure and supportive hand, and my former editor, Jon Karp, who saw the promise in this story from the beginning. Thanks also to Tina’s assistant, Svetlana Katz, and Jennifer’s assistant Courtney Moran.

In the many moments in which I was unsure if I could bring this book to a happy completion, my husband, Borden, was there to cheer me on. He spent long hours at our kitchen table, poring over my manuscript and making it stronger, and, when illness shrank my world to the upper floor of our house, filled that little world with joy. Thank you, Borden, for your boundless affection, for your wisdom, for your faith in me, and for always bringing me sandwiches.

Finally, I wish to remember the millions of Allied servicemen and prisoners of war who lived the story of the Second World War. Many of these men never came home; many others returned bearing emotional and physical scars that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. I come away from this book with the deepest appreciation for what these men endured, and what they sacrificed, for the good of humanity. It is to them that this book is dedicated.

——

Laura Hillenbrand

May 2010





NOTES


All letters to or from Louis Zamperini, or to or from his family members, as well as diaries, are from the papers of Louis Zamperini, except where noted otherwise.

All letters between Phillips family members, as well as Kelsey Phillips’s unpublished memoir “A Life Story,” are from the papers of Karen Loomis.

All interviews were conducted by the author, except where noted otherwise. As some seventy-five interviews were conducted with Louis Zamperini, citations of these interviews are not dated.





ABBREVIATIONS


AAFLA Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles

AFHRA Air Force Historical Research Agency

BGEA Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

HIA Hoover Institution Archives

NACP National Archives at College Park, Maryland

NHC Naval Historical Center

NPN No publication named

NYT New York Times

RAOOH Records of Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters

RG Record Group

SCAP Supreme Commander of Allied Powers





Preface


1 Raft: “42nd Bombardment Squadron: Addendum to Squadron History,” September 11, 1945, AFHRA, Maxwell AFB, Ala.; Louis Zamperini, telephone interview; Robert Trumbull, “Zamperini, Olympic Miler, Is Safe After Epic Ordeal,” NYT, September 9, 1945.

2 Four-minute mile: Charlie Paddock, “Sportorials,” April 1938 newspaper article from Zamperini scrapbook, NPN; George Davis, “For Sake of Sport,” Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express, undated 1938 article from Zamperini scrapbook; George Davis, “Cunningham Predicts Zamperini Next Mile Champ,” undated article from Zamperini scrapbook, NPN; Paul Scheffels, “4 Minute Mile Run Is Closer,” Modesto (Calif.) Bee, February 14, 1940.





PART I


Chapter 1: The One-Boy Insurgency


1 Graf Zeppelin: Douglas Botting, Dr. Eckener’s Dream Machine: The Great Zeppelin and the Dawn of Air Travel (New York: Henry Holt, 2001), pp. 146–88; “Zeppelin Shatters Record,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 11, 1929; “Zeppelin at L.A.,” Modesto News-Herald, August 26, 1929; “Zep to Sail Tonight for N.Y.,” San Mateo Times, August 26, 1929; “Graf Zeppelin Bids Adieu and Soars Homeward,” Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, August 8, 1929; Louis Zamperini, telephone interview; Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, March 2, 2006; Rick Zitarosa, Navy Lakehurst Historical Society, email interview, April 25, 2006; Lyle C. Wilson, “Eckener Follows Lindbergh Trail on Homeward Trip,” Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisc.), August 8, 1929; W. W. Chaplin, “Graf Zeppelin on Long Trail around World,” Jefferson City Post-Tribune, August 8, 1929; “Big German Zep Starts World Tour,” Moberly (Mo.) Monitor-Index, August 8, 1929; “Zep’s Ocean Hop Starts in Midweek,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 20, 1929; Karl H. Von Wiegand, “Graf Zeppelin Rides Typhoon Trail to Port,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 20, 1929; Miles H. Vaughn, “Graf Zeppelin Scores Great Hit with Orient,” Billings Gazette, August 28, 1929; “In the Spotlight of Today’s News,” Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier, August 26, 1929; “Zeppelin Will Continue Flight Tonight,” Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier, August 26, 1929; “Mikado of Japan to Receive ‘Graf’ Voyagers at Tea,” Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier, August 20, 1929; “Stars Playing Hide and Seek with Zeppelin,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 25, 1929.

2 Hitler’s speech: David Welch, Hitler: Profile of a Dictator (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 80.

3 “like a huge shark”: Botting, p. 180.

4 Looked like monsters: Ibid., p. 181.

5 “fearfully beautiful”: Louis Zamperini, telephone interview.

6 Family history: Peter Zamperini, telephone interviews, October 19, 22, 2004.

7 Boyhood stories: Art Rosenbaum, “Zamperini Cheated Death Nine Times,” San Francisco Chronicle Sporting Green, March 3, 1940; Maxwell Stiles, “Fire Threatened Career of Zamperini as Child,” Los Angeles Examiner, undated, 1938; Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 22, 2004; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews; Sylvia Flammer, telephone interviews, October 25, 27, 2004; Louis Zamperini, interview by George Hodak, Hollywood, Calif., June 1988, AAFLA.

8 “Pete never got caught”: Sylvia Flammer, telephone interview, October 25, 2004.

9 Italians were disliked: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 15, 2004.

10 “You could beat him”: Sylvia Flammer, telephone interview, October 25, 2004.

11 “Louie can’t stand it”: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 17, 2004.

12 Louie’s parents: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 15, 2004; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews; Sylvia Flammer, telephone interviews, October 25, 27, 2004.

13 “You only asked”: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 22, 2004.

14 “It was a matter”: Sylvia Flammer, telephone interview, October 25, 2004.

15 Louie’s troublemaking: Peter Zamperini, telephone interviews, October 15, 17, 19, 22, 2004; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews; Sylvia Flammer, telephone interviews, October 25, 27, 2004, and March 2, 2006.

16 Improvising meals: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 22, 2004.

17 Unemployment near 25 percent: United States Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, http://www.census.gov/rochi/www/fun1.html#1900 (accessed September 7, 2009).

18 Eugenics: Paul Lombardo, “Eugenic Sterilization Laws,” Dolan DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, http://www.eugenicsarchive.org (accessed April 13, 2006); Paul Lombardo, email interview, April 13, 2006; Edwin Black, “Eugenics and the Nazis—the California connection,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 9, 2003; Anthony Platt, professor emeritus, California State University, email interview, April 13, 2006; Anthony Platt, “The Frightening Agenda of the American Eugenics Movement” (remarks made before California Senate Judiciary Committee, June 24, 2003).

19 Infecting patients with tuberculosis: Edwin Black, “Eugenics and the Nazis—the California Connection,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 9, 2003.

20 Torrance boy threatened with sterilization: Louis Zamperini, telephone interview.

21 He was “bighearted”: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 17, 2004.

22 Listening to train: Louis Zamperini, telephone interview.





Chapter 2: Run Like Mad


1 Pete gets Louie’s sports ban lifted: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 17, 2004; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews.

2 Pete’s athletic career: “Track Stars Graduate,” undated 1934 newspaper article from Zamperini scrapbook, NPN; “Pete Zamperini Sets Record,” undated 1934 newspaper article from Zamperini scrapbook, NPN; “Pete Zamperini Goes to USC,” undated 1934 newspaper article from Zamperini scrapbook, NPN.

3 First race: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 17, 2004; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews; Louis Zamperini, interview by George Hodak, Hollywood, Calif., June 1988, AAFLA.

4 Pete hits Louie with stick: Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews; Maxwell Stiles, “Switch Helped Troy Star Learn to Run,” undated 1937 newspaper article from Zamperini papers, NPN.

5 Running away, Cahuilla: Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews.

6 Training: Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews; Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 17, 2004; Louis Zamperini, interview by George Hodak, Hollywood, Calif., June 1988, AAFLA; Virginia Bowersox Weitzel, telephone interview, February 19, 2005.

7 Cunningham: Mark D. Hersey, “Cunningham Calls It a Career,” KU Connection, April 8, 2002, http://www.kuconnection.org/april2002/people_Glenn.asp (accessed June 7, 2006); Paul J. Kiell, American Miler: The Life and Times of Glenn Cunningham (Halcottsville, N.Y.: Breakaway Books, 2006), pp. 21–149.

8 Fall of 1932 training: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 19, 2004; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews.

9 Louie’s stride: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 17, 2004.

10 “Smoooooth”: Virginia Bowersox Weitzel, telephone interview, February 19, 2005.

11 Weenie bakes: Virginia Bowersox Weitzel, telephone interview, February 19, 2005.

12 Louie’s time improvement: “Louie ‘Iron Man’ Zamperini,” undated 1934 newspaper article from papers of Peter Zamperini, NPN.

13 “Boy!”: “Sport Winks,” March 10, 1933, NPN, from Zamperini scrapbook.

14 Two-mile race: “Crack Miler of Torrance Takes Distance Event,” October 28, 1933, no newspaper named, from Zamperini scrapbook.

15 UCLA race: “Iron Man Zamperini Wins,” Torrance Herald, December 16, 1933; Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 15, 2004; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews.





Chapter 3: The Torrance Tornado


1 “sadly disheartened”: Undated 1934 article from Zamperini scrapbook, NPN.

2 “the boy who doesn’t know”: Ibid.

3 Southern California Track and Field Championship: “Zamperini Runs Mile in 4m 21 3/5,” Los Angeles Times, May 24, 1934; Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 15, 2004; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews.

4 Interscholastic records: Jon Hendershott, associate editor, Track and Field News, email interview, May 6, 2009; “Zamperini Runs Mile in 4m 21 3/5,” Los Angeles Times, May 24, 1934; “Mercersburg’s Great Trio,” Fort Wayne Daily News, June 3, 1916; Bert Dahlgren, “Reedley’s Bob Seaman Is Pushed to National Mile Record of 4:21,” Fresno Bee-Republican, May 30, 1953; “Dobbs Seeks World Mile Record,” Oakland Tribune, May 3, 1929.

5 “Torrance Tempest”: “Louis Zamperini of Torrance,” Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1934.

6 Herald insures legs: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, July 10, 2006; Louis Zamperini, telephone interview.

7 Top milers peak in mid-twenties: Charlie Paddock, “Spikes,” undated 1938 article from Zamperini scrapbook, NPN.

8 Cunningham world record, fastest high school mile, fastest career mile: “History of the Record for the Mile Run,” InfoPlease, www.infoplease.com (accessed July 9, 2004); Kiell, pp. 99–126, 266–67.

9 Compton Open preparation: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 15, 2004; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews; Louis Zamperini, interview by George Hodak, Hollywood, Calif., June 1988, AAFLA.

10 “If you stay”: Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 15, 2004.

11 “fifteen-minute torture chamber”: Louis Zamperini, letter to Louise Zamperini, July 14, 1936.

12 Compton Open: Undated articles from Zamperini scrapbook, no publications named; Peter Zamperini, telephone interview, October 19, 2004; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews; Louis Zamperini, interview by George Hodak, Hollywood, Calif., June 1988, AAFLA.

13 Final qualifying race: “Bright of San Francisco Club,” undated article from Zamperini scrapbook, NPN.

14 Send-off to Olympic trials: Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews.

15 Heat: Janet Fisher, Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell University, email interview, July 7, 2006; Keith Heidorn, PhD, “How Hot Can It Get? The Great Heat Wave of 1936,” The Weather Doctor, http://www.islandnet.com/weather/almanac/arc2006/alm06jul.htm (accessed May 1, 2006); Janet Wall, National Climatic Data Center, email interview, July 7, 2006; Louis Zamperini, telephone interviews; “Cooler Weather in the East Is Delayed Again,” Daily Messenger (Canandaigua, N.Y.), July 13, 1936; William F. McIrath, “Heat Wave Deaths Pass 3,000 Mark,” Dunkirk (N.Y.) Evening Observer, July 15, 1936; Dr. James LuValle, interview by George Hodak, Palo Alto, Calif., June 1988, AAFLA; Malcolm W. Metcalf, interviewed by George A. Hodak, Claremont, Calif., February 1988, AAFLA; Archie F. Williams, interviewed by George A. Hodak, Santa Rosa, Calif., June 1988, AAFLA; Kenneth Griffin, interview by George Hodak, Carlsbad, Calif., August 1988, AAFLA.

16 Race preparations: Louis Zamperini, letter to Pete Zamperini, July 10, 1936.

17 Prerace coverage, “If I have any”: Louis Zamperini, letter to Pete Zamperini, July 1936.

18 Lash as unbeatable: Alan Gould, “Two New Records Fall Before Indiana’s Lash,” Burlington (N.C.) Daily Times-News, July 4, 1936; Alan Gould, “Lash Tops U.S. Distance Stars on Trail of First Olympic Title,” Kingston (N.Y.) Daily Freeman, June 27, 1936.

19 “made a wreck of me”: “Runner Tells,” Torrance Herald, September 3, 1936.

20 Olympic trial: “Local Boy Runs Dead Heat,” Los Angeles Times, July 12, 1936; Bob Lwellyn, untitled article, Torrance Herald, July 1936; “Twenty Californians,” undated article from Zamperini scrapbook, NPN; Louis Zamperini, interview by George Hodak, Hollywood, Calif., June 1988, AAFLA; “Stars Fall in Games but Negro Contingent Shines,” Helena Daily Independent, July 13, 1936; George Kirksey, “Records Fall, Champions Beaten in Bitter Finals for American Games Team,” Olean (N.Y.) Times-Herald, July 13, 1936; Henry McLemore, “America Sends Strongest Team to the Olympics,” Dunkirk (N.Y.) Evening Observer, July 15, 1936; George T. Davis, “Zamperini Had Confidence in Ability,” Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express, July 11, 1936; “Torrance Tornado in Dead Heat,” Torrance Herald, July 16, 1936; Peter Zamperini, letter to Louis Zamperini, July 19, 1936.

21 “you couldn’t put a hair”: Louis Zamperini, telephone interview, July 10, 2006.

22 “jackass eating cactus”: Telegram, Mr. and Mrs. J. O. Bishop to Louis Zamperini, July 14, 1936.

23 Bright’s injured feet: “Louie Says He Won,” Torrance Herald, July 16, 1936; Louis Zamperini, telephone interview.

24 Norman Bright’s running: Georgie Bright Kunkel, “My Brother Was a Long Distance Runner,” West Seattle Herald, August 21, 2008.

25 Telegrams: Louis Zamperini, letter to Louise Zamperini, July 14, 1936; Zamperini scrapbook; Torrance Herald, undated article from Zamperini scrapbook, NPN.

26 “Am I ever happy”: Peter Zamperini, letter to Louis Zamperini, July 19, 1936.

27 Youngest distance runner: Bob Lwellyn, untitled article, Torrance Herald, July 1936.





Chapter 4: Plundering Germany


1 Stealing: Louis Zamperini, interview by George Hodak, Hollywood, Calif., June 1988, AAFLA.

2 Mustache: Louis Zamperini, Olympic diary, July 22, 1936, entry.

3 “They had nothing on me”: Louis Zamperini, telephone interview.

4 Training on ship: Iris Cummings Critchell, telephone interview, September 29, 2005; Iris Cummings Critchell, interviewed by George A. Hodak, Claremont, Calif., May 1988, AAFLA; Velma Dunn Ploessel, telephone interview, June 16, 2005; Louis Zamperini, Olympic diary; Velma Dunn Ploessel, interviewed by George A. Hodak, Downey, Calif., July 1988, AAFLA; Herbert H. Wildman, interviewed by George A. Hodak, Marina del Rey, Calif., October 1987, AAFLA; Arthur O. Mollner, interviewed by George A. Hodak, Westlake Village, Calif., May 1988, AAFLA.