USC legend Louis Zamperini died at the age of 97 following a bout with pneumonia according to Universal Pictures. Zamperini, a USC distance runner and 1936 Olympian, was the subject of the best-selling book, Unbroken, and upcoming movie of the same name directed by Angelina Jolie.
He was a member of a B-24 bomber crew in World War II and when his plane crashed, 8 of the 11 members died. Zamperini and two other men were adrift at sea. One died after 33 days while Zamperini and another crew member were captured by the Japanese on the 47th day. He was beaten and mistreated as a prisoner of war. He was declared killed in action but received a hero’s welcome when he returned home.
Zamperini was supposed to be the grand marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade. In 1936, Adolf Hitler reportedly asked to meet him after watching him run the 5,000 meters.
“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,” Jolie said in a statement.