Zamperini, Louis Silvie, CPT

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Last Rank
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
AAF MOS 1036-Bombardier
Last MOS Group
Aviation (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1945-1946, AAF MOS 1036, US Army Air Force (USAAF)
Service Years
1941 - 1946



Six Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SP 6 Gary McJimsey to remember Zamperini, Louis Silvie, CPT.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Hollywood, California

Date of Passing
Jul 02, 2014
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Honorably Discharged WW II

 Unofficial Badges 

 Tributes from Members  
Images posted by SC Sierra, Edwin (David), SFC 199
Death posted by SC Sierra, Edwin (David), SFC 199
Louis Zamperini, triumphant 'Unbroken' w... posted by SC Sierra, Edwin (David), SFC 199
Great man posted by MD McJimsey, Gary, SP 6 168
 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

AAF Bombardier Badge

 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1941, Basic Training (Camp Roberts, CA), A/3
 Unit Assignments
U.S. Army372nd Bombardment Squadron, HeavyUSAAF 7th Air Force42nd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
POW/MIAUS Army Air Force (USAAF)
  1942-1942, USAAF Flight Training-Allan Hancock College of Aeronautics
  1942-1942, 0006, AAF Bombardier School, Ellington Field, TX
  1942-1942, AAF MOS 1036, Army Air Forces Bombardier School, Midland Army Airfield
  1942-1942, AAF MOS 1036, 372nd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
  1942-1943, AAF MOS 1036, USAAF 7th Air Force/11th Bombardment Group
  1942-1943, AAF MOS 1036, 372nd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
  1943-1943, AAF MOS 1036, 42nd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
  1943-1945, AAF MOS 1036, POW/MIA
  1945-1946, AAF MOS 1036, US Army Air Force (USAAF)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1945 World War II
  1942-1943 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)
  1942-1945 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater
 Colleges Attended 
University of Southern CaliforniaAllan Hancock College of Aeronautics - Santa Maria, California
  1936-1940, University of Southern California
  1941-1941, Allan Hancock College of Aeronautics - Santa Maria, California
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Jul 05, 2014, General Photos24
  Jul 31, 2014, City of Torrance, CA Farewell Ceremony to Louis Zamperini
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity


Only close family and friends which included some lifelong acquaintances from Torrance, California along with Hollywood stars were invited to attend Louis Zamperini's funeral Sunday (July 13, 2014) at Hollywood Presbyterian Church, where Zamperini was a member and Sunday School teacher for many years.

The city of Torrance, California, where Zamperini grew up is planning its own send-off for the hometown hero; possibly with the help on Zamperini's son Luke, daughter Cynthia and grandson Clay.  It is planned to be open to the public stated by the Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto.  The event is planned for 6 p.m. July 31, 2014 at Zamperini Stadium at the Torrance High School, Zamperini's alma mater.

Information from via internet
Donna Littlejohn
The Daily Breeze

Burial site still unknown.
August 31, 2014
Torrance High School, Torrance, California

A public memorial service was held at the Zamperini Stadium at the Torrance High School.  Attendance was 2,000 plus individuals.  In attendance and participated in the memorial was Zamperini's son Luke, daughter Cynthia Zamperini-Garris and grandson Clay. Clay stated "...grandfather's legacy will live on.  ..(he) has been a lot of things to a lot of people.  He was an example of elite athleticism and a reminder that with hard work and direction, we are all capable of anything."

Louis Zamperini was to be the Grand Marshall for the 2015 Rose Parade.  Members of his family stated that they are planning to take their father's place on a Rose Parade float on January 1, 2014, in honor of their father.
Died July 2, 2014, at his Hollywood Hills home in California. (Confirmed by Universal Pictures – Michael Moses). Louis Zamperini had been ill and suffering from pneumonia for about 40 days prior to his death.
His son Luke said: “It’s all so new. We’re devastated.  He’s 97 years old so it’s not a tragedy but a triumph.  But still, we have to find a way of being without him.”
Age at Death 97
Height: 5 foot 10.5 inches in his prime years.
Born January 26, 1917
Olean, New York
Louis S. Zamperini was pre-deceased by his wife of 55 years, Cynthia, in 2001 as well as his brother, Pete in 2008.
He is survived by his son, Luke, and a daughter, Cynthia Zamperini-Garris, both of the San Fernando Valley, California, and a grandson Clay.
Louis’s family moved to Long Beach, California in 1919 from Olean, New York due to poor health of both Pete and Louis who had double-pneumonia. The family doctor suggested that Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Zamperini move to California for a warmer climate.  Louis had an Uncle Nick (brother to Mrs. Louise Zamperini) who lived in San Pedro, CA. So California made good sense for their new home.

Torrance High School, Torrance, California - Graduated 1936.
Summer Olympics 1936, USA Track Team, Berlin, Germany. Finished eighth in the 5,000 meter run.

Louis attended the University of Southern California (USC) 1936 -1940 on a Scholarship as well as a scholarship for his brother Pete who was already an accomplished track star and attending Compton College.  (Some sources state Louis only completed three years at USC). Louis states in his Devil At My Heels book, page 52 - 54, that after graduating from USC he went to work at Lockheed as a spot-welder and later into the Expediting Department. At USC Louis achieved a two-time NCAA champion in the mile and was a likely candidate to break the four-minute mile. Louis never made it to the 1940 Olympics scheduled for Tokyo, Japan as WW II changed all those plans for Louis and Pete.  A requirement for working at Lockheed was a physical exam at which time it was found that Louis had pleurisy in one lung and had it for several months.  The pleurisy was cured with antibiotics and other medications

Married May 25, 1946 at an Episcopal Church that Cynthia had attended as a child (Los Angeles County).
Wife - Cynthia Applewhite - January 26, 1926 - February 21, 2001 Los Angeles, CA.
Daughter - Cynthia (Cissie) Zamperini-Garris
Son - Luke
Grandson - Clay


Father - Anthony (Tony) Zamperini - Garda, Italy June 9, 1889 - May 5, 1975 Torrance, CA.
Mother - Louise Dossi Zamperini - Elk, PA February 4, 1898 - July 23, 1993 Los Angeles, CA.


Brother - Pete S Zamperini - Dunkirk, NY May 24, 1915 - May 15, 2008 San Clemente, CA.
Sister - Sylvia Theresa Zamperini Flammer - Dunkirk, NY, January 30, 1918 - October 28, 2008 Los Angeles, CA.
Virginia M Zamperini -  Los Angeles, CA September 19, 1923 - July 29, 2008, Littleton, CO.
In 1936 Zamperini, an international track star, while in Berlin for the Olympic Games as Uncle Sam’s ace track runner, yanked down a Nazi swastika flag right in front of Hitler’s Palace, the Reich Chancellery.

In his book; Devil At My Heels, with David Rensin, Harper Paperback, 2011, pages 40 -42, Zamperini states:
"Later (after running the 5000 meter race) I hit the streets of Berlin (evening after Louis ran in the 1936 Olympics) with a friend from the team. We hiked everywhere, saw the sights. We wanted to find an Automat, where they served liters of beer. You could drink one and walk around with a little boost. Maybe try something you normally wouldn’t. We also wanted souvenirs. I grabbed an ashtray from a Tanz bar – a dance hall and bar. I also copped a fan.
At the Reich Chancellery we stopped and stood across the street to take in the magnificent building. In front, two guards marched from the doorway in the middle to the corners, where each would do an about-face and goose-step back to the center. While we stared, a limousine pulled up and Hitler got out and went inside, accompanied by some officers.
Of all the possible souvenirs, I wanted a Nazi flag the most. I couldn’t get the beautiful ones, the long silk streamers that hung from the building tops, so I set my sights lower and spotted a banner maybe ten, fifteen feet up, on a pole stuck in the Chancellery’s perimeter wall. My mind went to work; thinking maybe I could get it when the guards weren’t looking; I watched them walk their circuit and timed how long it took. I figured I could be across the street and up and down the pole while they walked toward their respective corners, then gone before they swung again in my direction.
As soon as the guards turned I made my move, but when I got under the flag it was higher than I figured and I had some trouble getting up the pole. When the guards did their about-face, they saw me, and began to yell. I stretched, grabbed the flag, then dropped to the ground and ran. I heard a loud crack that sounded a lot like a rifle shot, and words "Halten sie! Halten sie!".  I didn’t need to understand German to figure it out.
I made the smart move: I stopped. The guards seized me and cuffed me a bit for good measure before they took a good look at my Olympic clothing and realized I was an American athlete. One guard spoke very halting English. He wanted to know why I’d torn down the flag. I told him my name and the truth: I wanted a souvenir to take home to America – and here I embellished a bit – to always remind me of the wonderful time I had in Germany.
He left me with the other guard, went into the building, and returned with an older, high-ranking officer, introduced as Fritz. I later learned it was General Werner von Fritsch, commander-in-chief of the German Army (whom they eventually executed for going against Hitler’s policies). Von Fritsch said, why did you tear down the swastika?
I repeated my explanation. It must have been the right answer. He presented me with the flag, as a souvenir of your trip to Germany."

Zamperini still has that flag.
Zamperini was given the honor of carrying the Olympic Flame (Torch) three times: in 1984 and 1998. The 1998 run was in Japan.
Louis was to be the 2015 Rose Parade Grand Marshal.
Zamperini is the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book “Unbroken:  A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” which is being made into a movie directed by Angelina Jolie that is scheduled for a Christmas Day 2014.
Louis S. Zamperini – Military Service:
March 18, 1941 Enlisted in AAF to be a P-38 Pilot
Enlisted at March Field, Riverside, CA.
Washed out of Allen Hancock School of Aeronautics, Santa Maria, CA.
September 29, 1941 Enlisted in the US Regular Army, sent to Camp Roberts, CA for Basic Training and NCO Basic Training School.
Ellington Field, Houston, TX for AAF Bombardier training, then to Midland Air Field, Texas.
August 13, 1942 Graduated top 15 of OCS & Bombardier School, Midland Air Field / AAF Flying School, Midland, Texas. Brigadier Gen. Isaiah Davics, commanding general at Midland, Texas Army Flying School pined a pair of silver bombardier wings on Second Lieutenant Louis Zamperini on August 13 or14, 1942.
Louis spent the rest of August through most of October 1942 stationed at the Ephrata Army Airfield in Ephrata, Washington. Louis was assigned to Crew #8 of the 372nd Bombardment Squadron, 307th Bombardment Group, Seventh Air Force. The 372nd Bombardment Squadron would later in October 1942 fly to Hamilton Airfield in California and then to Hickman Airfield in Hawaii. The pilot of Crew #8 was Russell Allen Phillips whose life was saved by Louis following a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean in May 1943.
October 25, 1942,  the squadron was then sent to Hickam Field, Oahu, Hawaii, 372nd Bombardment Squadron, 307th Bombardment Group, 7th Air Force. Assignment included flying out of Kahoka Air Base on Oahu’s north shore. Earned Master Bombardier Classification.
Three days before Christmas 1942; December 23 / 24 / 25, 1942, the mission to bomb Wake Island. B-24, Superman, departed Kahuku at 10:00 am (probably 12-22-42 Hawaii time), total twenty-six B - 24 planes equipped with Davis Wings for fast cruising and dive bombing. First leg of the flight was to Midway Island, 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu, with a flight time of about eight hours. Each plan’s crew received a case of cold Budweiser; perhaps from the Marines who already knew what the AAF’s mission was for several days or even several weeks before the Squadron knew. The B-24 planes required modifications to make the flight to Wake and back without a refueling stop. Addition fuel tanks (Two auxiliary tanks added in the bomb bay) were used for a total of 75,000 gallons of fuel and only 6-500 pound bombs were loaded. The bottom of the planes and wings were painted a Lamp Black color so they could not be seen from the ground. At 1400 hours the following day (probably 12-23-42 Hawaii time), briefings, studied maps and target locations.  Planes stripped of any excess weight departed Midway at 1600 hours for the eight hour flight to Wake for the first US bombing of Wake Island. First bombs dropped from the lead plan, Dumbo the Avenger, flown by Col Matheny, at 00.05 hours, 12-24-42 Hawaii time but 12-25-42 Wake Island time as they had crossed the international date line and passed midnight – It was Christmas Day on Wake Island. All twenty-six of the B-24 planes returned to Midway, with no casualties or injuries. They landed about 8 am with the Marines greeting each crew member with a quart of whisky. At 1400 hours the crews joined others on Midway to hear a radiogram from Admiral Nimitz congratulating the 26 crews on a job well done. The following day, 12-26-42 (Hawaii time) they departed for Kahuku, Hawaii. Sixteen hour round trip flight from Midway to Wake and back to Midway; non-stop.
May 27, 1943, the Super Man crew now assigned to the 42nd Bombardment Squadron, 11th Bombardment Group, went on a routine Search and Rescue mission in the Green Hornet, a musher of a B-24 (not a B-17 as indicated on the AAF Missing Aircraft Report (MACR) 16163 - NARA Missing Aircraft Report of 10 Apr 46).  The Green Hornet was assigned to the 42nd Bombardment Squadron, 11th Bombardment Group, 7th Air Force.

The Super Man could not be flown due to severe damage from the Nauru raid in April 1943.  

The missing plane was a B-24D, Ser #42-40519, piloted by 1st Lt Clarence Corpening. The plane disappeared the day before on May 26, 1943.

Phillips volunteered for the searching of a B-25 that went down in the Pacific Ocean 200 miles north of Palmyra Island. The Green Hornet had ten crew members (the uninjured members) from the damaged Super Man from a prior mission, and one officer passenger. The MACR 16163 / NARA Missing Aircraft Report stated this person to be an enlisted man. Zamperini’s book, Devil At My Heels, Harper Paperback 2011 printing, states on page 82, this unidentified person was an officer who wanted a lift to Palmyra Island, which is where Phillips / Zamperini had to land for refueling after the search.  Phillips and his crew, including Zamperini, departed Kahuku at 1830 hours along with another B-24 for this search and rescue mission. The Green Hornet was a B-24D-20-CO, #41-24212, manufactured by Consolidated and was no longer being used for combat missions as many parts had been stripped from it. The plan was used primarily for non-combat travel in obtaining supplies, etc. Apparently Lt Phillips had flown this plan previously as he was familiar with it weird operation and behavior. The story is that while searching for the downed aircraft a cloud layer formed at 1,000 feet. Philips dove the Green Hornet down below the cloud layer to about 800 feet, when the number one engine developed problems and then stopped. Phillips asked the flight engineer (do not know which crew member was performing this duty) to feather another engine to compensate for the loss on #1. The engineer mistakenly feather number two engine, which is on the same side and wing as the number one engine, causing the Green Hornet to quickly and severely angle to the left and dropped to the ocean. The Green Hornet was reported at missing with no survivors. It was not until many months later that the United States was informed that Japan held Phillips and Zamperini in POW camps after being picked up by the Japanese some 2,000 miles from the Green Hornet crash site. The third survivor of the crash, SSgt. McNamara, did not survive his injuries and did at sea on June 6, 1943. Lieutenants Phillips and Zamperini gave McNamara a proper military burial-at-sea.
Crew Members for the Green Hornet search & rescue mission:
1st Lt. Russel Allen Phillips (POW, Survived), Pilot, IN
1st Lt. Charlton H. Cupernell (KIA), Co-Pilot, CA
1st Lt. Louis Zamperini (POW, Survived), Bombardier, CA
1st Lt. Robert H. Mitchell (KIA), Crew, IL
Sgt. Otto Anderson (KIA), Crew, WI
Pvt. Leslie A. Deane (KIA), Crew, KS
SSgt. Frank Glassman (KIA), Crew, IL
SSgt. Jay S. Hansen (KIA), Crew, ID
Cpt. Michael Walsh (KIA), Crew, PA
SSgt. Francis P. McNamara, (Survived then Died at Sea June 6, 1943), Tail Gunner, OH
Unidentified Occupant - a Lieutenant (KIA), Confirmed in Zamperini's book, Devil At My Heels, 2011 paperback edition, page 72  "....immediately tended to a lieutenant lying on the deck with his stomach ripped open.  He was our extra passenger who had asked to come along to see the fun."  In the book, Unbroken, page 94, this lieutenant is named Donald Nelson.

Other Comments:

Louis Zamperinie and Gregory (Pappy) Boyington, both POW at the same time during WWII at POW Camp Ofuna.  Both men were not listed by the Japanese as prisoners to the Red Cross at this time at Ofuna.  The two officers were later sent to different POW Camps in Japan at which time they were reported to the Red Cross as POW.  Boyington was a USMC fighter pilot and received the Medal of Honor and promoted to LTC upon his return to the United States after release by the Japanese in 1945.

Boyington lived in the Fresno, CA area until his death on January 11, 1988.  Gary McJimsey, ATWS member, met LTC Gregory ( Pappy) Boyington on several occasion in the mid 70's in Fresno, CA.

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