During his service in Tweede Wereldoorlog, Zamperini was one of only a few survivors of a military plane crash. The crash left him stranded on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean alongside two other American soldiers for what amounted to a terrifying 47-day-stint.
Zamperini and his fellow comrades shared the small raft – which drifted a total of 2,000 miles over the course of their traumatic journey. They survived on a little rainwater, a few fish, and an occasional bird – and were even circled by a Japenese plan for 30 minute.
Bullets rained down on them in that half-hour time span, sit 48 holes in the raft — but miraculously leaving Zamperini unscathed.
“It was the first time in my life that I began to pray,” Zamperini said in the Fox Nasie dokumentêr, ‘Captured by Grace.’ “ek het gesê, ‘God, if I survive this ordeal, get back to America alive – I’ll seek you and serve you.”
Zamperini indeed survived and returned to the United States a hero — but not before enduring further torture at the hands of a sadistic Japanese corporal, Mutsuhiro Watanabe, known as ‘The Bird,’ who captured Zamperini after his stretch at sea. The events of his time with ‘The Bird’ were chronicled in Laura Hillenbrand’s book, “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” which later inspired Angelina Jolie’s film of the same name.