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Louis Zamperini
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Military Personnel
    (January 26, 1917-July 2, 2014)
    Born in Olean, New York
    Athlete, motivational speaker, soldier
    Competed in the XI Summer Olympics (Berlin 1936)
    Profiled in the biography 'Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption' by Laura Hillenbrand
    After learning how to box in self-defense in order to fend of bullies, he admitted to 'Beating the tar out of every one of them..... but [he] was so good at it that [he] started relishing the idea of getting even. [He] was sort of addicted to it.'
    He was nicknamed the 'Torrance Tornado.'
    He finished in eighth place during 5,000 meter distance event at the Berlin Summer Olympics.
    He became a born again Christian after attending a Billy Graham crusade.
    In high school, he set a world interscholastic record for the mile, clocking in at 04:21.2 at the preliminary meet to the state championships (1934).
    He later earned a scholarship to University of Southern California and a berth on the US Olympic track team in 1936.
    Despite his underwhelming finish, his performance caught Adolf Hitler's attention enough for him to shake hands with him.
    He and several others were stranded at sea for 47 days after their B-24 bomber lost fuel and crashed in the Pacific Ocean.
    He also was brutally held captive in Japan until the conclusion of World War II in 1945.
    Despite suffering post-traumatic stress disorder shortly after the war, his newfound faith helped him cope and inspired him to become a motivational speaker.
    He met many of his tormentors in Japan and forgave them.
    He was a torchbearer during the relay leading up to the XVIII Winter Olympics (Nagano 1998).
    His experiences have been chronicled in both an biography and a movie, the latter being directed by Oscar winner Angelina Jolie.
    He attended the 2014 AMPAS Governor's Awards and was later selected as Grand Marshall for the 2015 Tournament of Roses Parade.
    He appeared on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' and other talk shows.

Credit: Birdienest81

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