The story focuses on Louie, a standout on the track field and his remarkable story of surviving being held captive as a POW during WW II. His story is an amazing story of the inner strength a person must have to survive.
Louis Silvie Zamperini was born in 1917. His parents were Italian immigrants who settled in Torrance, California. Louie was sick as a child and his growth was affected. He shows great skill on the track field and joined the track team. He broke all kinds of records and set his sights on the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. He goes and wins and breaks more records. He sets his sights next on the 1940 Olympic Games. Germany and Japan exerting their power over other nations and the Games were canceled. Louie was then drafted into the air corps and becomes a bombardier. The U.S. enters the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Louie and two other fighters crash in the sea and spend 46 days there. One of the pilots, Mac, ends up dying before their eyes on the raft. They drift 2000 miles west of where they crashed. They see what they think is land, but it turns out to be a Japaneses boat. They are captured and taken as POW's.
Louie and Phil are kept in horrible conditions but they keep on surviving. At the end of September 1944, Louie is told he and some of the other POW's are being moved. Phil is sent to a camp in Zentsuji. Louie and the others are sent to Omoni, a small island in Tokyo Bay. While at this camp, Louie meets The Bird, a sadistic leader at the camp. He is known for his anger, but he has extreme anger towards Louie. He beats Louie continuously. The Bird will haunt Louie for most of his life. The Bird finally leaves the camp and life is still hard, but not as bad since Bird has left. Louie is then sent to Naoetsu and realizes that The Bird is there now, as well. On August, 1 1945, the largest Air Raid takes place. 5 days later the Atomic bomb is dropped. Louie becomes very ill, but realizes the war is finally over. He is sent home and he meets Cynthia Appelwhite and the two end up getting married. Louie has a hard time adjusting to life and starts drinking heavily. Cynthia leaves him and he decides he wants to change his life. He works hard and totally turns his life around.