An All-American Hero

A truly great American died today.
Louis Zamperini has gone to be with the Lord.

It was my privilege to get to know Louis and to interview him on a number of occasions. He truly was one of a kind. How many people do you know who shook hands with Adolph Hitler and also punched a shark in the nose? Louis did that and more.

This all happened in his remarkable life, recorded in the outstanding book Unbroken, written by Laura Hillenbrand. This book is now being made into a film that will be out by the end of the year.

I once told Louis it was as though he had lived four separate lives:

  • Louis the juvenile delinquent who developed an ability for running (which he perfected running from the police!) that carried him to the Olympics of 1936. He put in such an impressive performance that Adolf Hitler, who was in power at that point, wanted to shake his hand.
  • Louis the patriot, who joined the military to serve his country in World War 2. He became a bombardier and was shot down over the Pacific and was adrift at sea for a staggering 47 days.
  • Then there was Louis the survivor, who was captured by the Japanese and held as a prisoner of war for two years. It was during this time Louis was treated especially cruelly by a Japanese commandant that had it out for him, known as “the bird.”
  • Finally, there was Louis the follower of Jesus Christ. After returning from war, he was hailed as a hero for all he endured. He spiraled downward into alcoholism, dealing with PTSD. His wife invited him to hear a young preacher from North Carolina that was just beginning his ministry named Billy Graham. Louis went forward to accept Christ that night and spent the rest of his 97 years on earth telling others about his faith.

That faith also prompted Louis to go back to Japan and share the gospel with the very guards who had treated him so cruelly. Truly, this was an amazing life.

I am confident Jesus has already said to Louis Zamperini, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in the joy of your Lord!”

Here is a video of an interview I did with Louis a short while ago:

12 thoughts on “An All-American Hero”

  1. Sandra says:

    What an amazing man! I am so glad I got to see this video. He is a great story teller of his life and has such a wonderful sense of humor. I too wish I could have met and talked to him in person. He is a true American Hero that we can all look up to! GOD has richly blessed him and blessed us.

  2. gus garcia says:

    thanks you for sharing your story you are truly an amazing man.

  3. Lola Bailey says:

    My Father-in-law is not a believer but is very interested in Louie Zamperini
    He was also wounded in the war. He lost a leg and part of one foot. He will soon turn 90. He read the book Unbroken twice and was amazed that a man who endured what he had could put his trust in God and become the man he was.
    Could you post the pics you showed on Sunday and the one you spoke of with Billy Graham, Louie and your Uncle Fred so we can show them to him?
    And please pray for his salvation and also his wife Jim and Shirley Bailey.
    Thank you and God Bless You,

  4. Brian says:

    Is this available on DVD?

    1. Brian Jackson says:

      No, it isn’t available on DVD at this time.

  5. john t says:

    Thank God Louie surrendered his life to the Lord, he could have gone is the wrong direction in life. God works in so many ways. He is in heaven now serving God.

  6. Teresa Hudson says:

    He was quite a guy…wish I could have met him in person…bet he had a million stories!

  7. Gary Strickland says:

    This was a true modern day hero. I saw him at one of Pastor Greg’s Crusades a while back. Here is proof that God takes care of us all. When I think about the problems I have sometimes, all I have to do is take notice to other people’s problems and trials like Louis’s. God test us, but He never lets us go through these test alone. God is always with us. This story brings me hope when going through difficult times.

  8. Joe Fazio says:

    We will miss Lou a one of a kind American hero! He made us proud to be an American!
    Thank you Lou for all you did for us! We will see you & thank you in heaven! You have received greatest reward!

  9. Rhoda De Flon says:

    What an amazing Man! He is a true American Hero!!! I am happy he met Billy Graham and turned His life over to Jesus Christ!!!

  10. Robbie L. Tapley says:

    What a blessing. Both of these men are a blessing to the world. Praise the lord.

  11. LUPE PORTUGAL says:

    I heard this man at Harvest OC angel stadium a few years ago. This man was modern day hero and a true Godly man.

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