The WWII veteran and inspiration of Angelina Jolie's film "Unbroken," Louis Zamperini passed away from a bout of pneumonia at a ripe 97 years of age.
He faced many challenges in life but dealt with them courageously and resolutely. His is a story of inspiration and the smile that emerges from behind the tears.
Never one to bow down from a test of his limits, Zamperini fought the bout of pneumonia for more than and month and then gave up the ghost peacefully amidst his entire family.
Universal Pictures, which will release "Unbroken" on Dec. 25, 2014, released a statement on Thursday morning about Zamperini's death. "Having overcome insurmountable odds at every turn in his life, Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini has never broken down from a challenge."
"He recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia. After a 40-day-long battle for his life, he peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, leaving behind a legacy that has touched so many lives. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days."
She was distraught and said that his demise was such a great loss. "It is a loss impossible to describe. We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly," she said in a tweet.
He had been a beacon of light and a guiding star for so many people in the world. The man was simply irreplaceable. The movie depicting Jolie will be released by the end of this year. It is a testament to Zamperini’s tenacious ability to survive and thrive despite the odds against him.
He was a very unique individual who had performed his duties with vigilance. It was the manner of interest he took in the details of life that made him a truly wonderful man and an example for so many.
He was a fighter and never took anything sitting down. A no-nonsense kind of person, Zamperini did it his way and overcame so many hurdles that he is literally an epic hero to the masses.
"We are so profoundly sad at this moment and all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Zamperini family. Louis was truly one of a kind. He lived the most remarkable life, not because of the many unbelievable incidents that marked his near century's worth of years, but because of the spirit with which he faced every one of them," Universal continued.
"Confronting challenges that would cause most of us to surrender, Louie always persevered and always prevailed, and he spent the better part of his lifetime sharing the message that you could do the same. His example of grace, dignity and resilience inspired all of us lucky enough to know him and the millions who got to know him from the pages of Laura's book."
"We move forward to the release of Unbroken with a renewed sense of responsibility in bringing Louie's abundant life and indomitable spirit to the screen. Now more than ever, we join Angelina in honoring the lessons and legacy of this extraordinary man who has meant so much to so many."
Louis Zamperini partook in the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Later on he also served as a US Air Force pilot and his plane crashed behind Japanese lines. He remained a POW for two years before making his way back to the United States where he was given a hero’s welcome.
Later on he returned to Japan and was the torchbearer for the Olympics there. He had a stadium named after him. Zamperini had a single regret though. And that was that many of his wartime comrades had died leaving him sad and lonely.
Yet he continued to live life with vitality and courage. Today when he is no longer with us our condolences go out to his family and friends. May his soul rest in peace!