On this day in 1943: Former Olympian's plane crashes into the Pacific

On this day in 1943: Former Olympian's plane crashes into the Pacific
U.S. Army Corps bombardier Louis Zamperini was a prisoner of war in Japan for 2 years. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
U.S. Army Corps bombardier Louis Zamperini was a prisoner of war in Japan for 2 years. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Louis Zamperini was stranded in the ocean for 47 days before being found by Japanese boatmen. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Louis Zamperini was stranded in the ocean for 47 days before being found by Japanese boatmen. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been 75 years since the plane of former U.S. Olympian and Army soldier Louis Zamperini crashed into the Pacific Ocean, leaving him and a few survivors stranded for over a month.

The late Zamperini was stationed on Oahu as a bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Corps on May 27 when his B-24 plane crashed into the Pacific, instantly killing 8 of the 11 passengers on board. A ninth passenger, Francis McNamara, died after a month at sea.

Zamperini had enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941, shortly after the beginning of World War II resulted in the cancellation of the 1940 Tokyo Olympics.

The former track and field athlete was searching for a missing plane when his own aircraft began having mechanical problems, causing the plane's crash in late May of 1943. After the crash, Zamperini and the B-24's pilot, Russell Allen Phillips, survived using rainwater, fish and seabirds for sustenance as they floated stranded in the Pacific for 47 days.

When Zamperini and Phillips were finally discovered by Japanese boatmen after drifting about 2,000 miles, they were taken as prisoners of war and tortured for two years.

Zamperini was released in 1945 after the war ended, and went on to become an author and inspirational speaker before he died in 2014.

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