Tag Archives: louis zamperini

USAFA Class of 2020 Chooses Bob Hoover as Exemplar

For the past few years each class at the US Air Force Academy has chosen an “exemplar,” a program USAFA describes as an opportunity for the class to

honor and identify with a past military giant, alive or dead.

This year, the USAFA Class of 2020 chose Bob Hoover.

Among other stories,

1st Lt. Robert Hoover, a former Army Air Corps, Air Force and civilian test pilot…of Nashville, Tennessee, was taken captive by the Germans after being shot-down by the Luftwaffe over France during World War II. He spent 16 months in Stalag Luft I, a German POW camp, before sneaking into a German FW-190 aircraft and flying to Holland. It was his fourth attempt to escape the prison.

Though officially Read more

USAFA Cadets Choose Bombardier, Christian as Exemplar

In a relatively recent tradition, each class of US Air Force Academy cadets since 2000 has chosen an “exemplar” representing the character and fortitude to which they would like to aspire. Exemplars have included airpower giants like Mitchell and Doolittle, famous fighter pilots like Olds, and Major David Brodeur, USAFA Class of 1999, who was killed in Afghanistan.

The USAFA Class of 2018 recently chose as its exemplar Capt Louis Zamperini, Army Air Corps bombardier, POW, and outspoken Christian:

Cadet 3rd Class J. Benson Anderson, Jr., an Exemplar Committee official, said Zamperini was selected because he demonstrated the character and conviction the Class of 2018 strives to maintain.

“His loyalty in Read more

Unbroken Movie Documents Fighting, Faith, Freedom

Update: Franklin Graham describes the faith of Louis Zamperini here.  Notably:

He found a Bible that had been issued by the air corps and began reading.

Seems some documented good came from the US military issuing Bibles during World War II.


Unbroken, the Laura Hillenbrand biography on Louis Zamperini (which made the 2012 CSAF Reading List), has been made into an Angelina Jolie-directed movie to be released on Christmas day.

A small controversy is brewing over the movie’s admitted generalization of “faith,” despite the importance of the Christian faith to Zamperini’s life story. Ultimately, this should be little surprise, given that the book Unbroken (reviewed here) similarly spent very little time on the topic — while Zamperini himself devoted a substantial portion of his autobiography, Devil at My Heels (reviewed here), to his conversion and faith experience.

Christianity Today columnist Alissa Wilkinson noted Unbroken seems to lack the “redemption” from its “Survival. Resilience. Redemption.” tagline (the same conclusion reached here about the book). Without knowing the actual story, one might think Zamperini’s inspiring story was one of self:  Read more

Louis Zamperini Passes: Olympian, WWII POW, Forgiving Christian

Louis Zamperini was an Olympian in 1936, went on to become a B-24 bombardier, and would eventually become famous for surviving 47 days afloat in the Pacific Ocean — followed by two years in Japanese POW camps.

Zamperini died last Thursday, July 3rd, at the age of 97.

Zamperini wrote a book about his experiences entitled Devil at My Heels, which was reviewed here. Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote Seabiscuit and heard about Zamperini during her research, wrote another biography entitled Unbroken (reviewed here), which Read more

Air Force Reading List Highlights Christian Autobiography

For the second year in a row, the biography of a military Christian has made the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s official “Reading List.”  Last year, it was Unbroken, the story of Louis Zamperini, the Olympic athlete turned bombardier turned POW — a man who eventually became a Christian and returned to meet his former torturers.

This year, General Mark Welsh’s first list contains Lee Ellis’ Leading with Honor, previously reviewed here.  The Air Force write up says

How did American military leaders in the brutal POW camps Read more

Christian Biography Featured on Air Force Reading List

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Norton Schwartz, recently published his 2012 reading list, part of the CSAF Professional Reading Program.

In the first quarter, one of the featured books is the biography of a Christian, Unbroken.

As noted in a separate review (here), Unbroken is the biography of Louis Zamperini, a World War II B-24 bombardier who also wrote an autobiography entitled Devil at My Heels (reviewed here). Unbroken focused on “survival and resilience,” leaving the “redemption” part of its subtitle to just the last few pages.  Redemption, of course, came in the form of Zamperini accepting Christ at a Billy Graham crusade in 1949, his Read more

Book Review: Devil at My Heels

Louis Zamperini with David Rensin
Harper Collins, 2003 (2011)

Devil at My Heels is the updated autobiography of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete, B-24 bombardier, POW, and Christian. It seems most people come upon the book by first finding Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, the biography of the same man published around the same time.

Unsurprisingly, much of the text is the same.  It is, after all, the same man’s true story.  The stories are generally identical, though told in slightly different ways.  As noted in the review of Unbroken, Zamperini’s story there is a well told narrative but lacks Read more

Book Review: Unbroken

Laura Hillenbrand
Random House, 2010

Unbroken, A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is the story of Louis Zamperini — an Olympic athlete, B-24 bombardier, POW, and Christian.

Zamperini is famous as the man who many believed “could have” beaten the 4-minute mile in the 1940s.  At 19, he qualified for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, even getting to shake Hitler’s hand after a 7th place finish — in which he sprinted one of the fastest final laps ever and beat every American time by more than Read more