An Unbroken Timeline

The military life of Louis Zamperini

Life Before Army

Louis Zamperini was born in New York but moved to Torrance, California when he was two. Before joining the military, he was an Olympic athlete, placing 8th in the 5000 meter race in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.


Jan 26, 1917

Louis Zemperini was born.


Zemperini began his Army Air Force training in Ephrata, Washington where he met his pilot Allen Phillips who would stay with him throughout the rest of his service.

Joins Army Air Force

Sept 29, 1941

Louis Zamperini joined the Army Air Forces.

Houston, TX – Ellington Field

Nov, 1941

Midland, TX – Midland Army Flying School

Aug, 1942

Ephrata, WA

Aug 19, 1942

Zamperini met his plane crew.

Sioux City, IA

Oct, 1942

Many bombers crashed but neither Zamperini nor "Phil" was on them.

Hamilton Field, CA (stopover to Hawaii)

Oct, 1942

An artist was painting the plane's names with a corresponding picture on each plane.

Hawaii — Hickam Field

Nov 2, 1942

The first duty station for Zamperini and his crew was Hickam Field, Oahu were the war had begun for Americans eleven months earlier.


He was deployed to the Pacific island of Funafuti as a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator bomber. In April 1942 the plane was badly damaged in combat and the crew were assigned to conduct a search for a lost aircraft and crew. They were given another B-24, The Green Hornet, notorious among the pilots as a defective "lemon plane". While on the search, mechanical difficulties caused the plane to crash into the ocean 850 miles west of Oahu, killing eight of the eleven men aboard.

Wake Atoll (via Midway Island)

Dec 23, 1942

Zamperini's first bombing raid on a Japanese base.

Canton (to prep for Makin and Tarawa)

Feb, 1943

The six man crew had been stationed in Canton for two missions over Makin and Tarawa. Here, local servicemen would throw grenades into the mouths of sharks trapped in the lagoon and watched them explode.

Nauru, then landed in Funafuti

April 17, 1943

Louis' bomber, the Super Man, was badly damaged in air battle called the Battle of Nauru

From Funafuti, via Canton, to Palmyra Atoll

April 18, 1943

Stationed at Kualoa Field, Oahu

May 24, 1943

Plane crashes

May 27, 1943

While heading from Kualoa to Palmyra their plane crashed, roughly 225 miles north of Palmyra

Prisoner of War

After 47 days at sea, Zamperini and Phil reached the Marshall Islands in their raft and were taken prisoner by the Japanese Navy. They were beaten and mistreated until the end of the war in 1945.

Landed at Wotje in the Marshall Islands

July 13, 1943


July 16, 1943

Yokohama, Japan (on the eastern coast of Honshu) to Ofuna

Sept 15, 1943

Omori (on an artificial island in Toyko Bay)

Sept 30, 1944


March 2, 1945