This Date in 1943: Louis Zamperini's 47 Days Adrift Ends
Posted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:03 am
On July 13, 1943 Louis Zamperini and his pilot, Russell Phillips were captured by Japanese forces in the Marshall Islands on their 47th day adrift across the Pacific. A third man with them died after a month at sea, following the crash of their B-24 Liberator while on a low-level search mission. (Zamperini's life is the subject of the book Unbroken, by my friend Laura Hillenbrand.) My father was in a sister aircraft on the same search mission, and became among the first crew to search for survivors. My father and his crewmates learned after the Americans took Kwajalein, and captured Japanese documents were translated, that Phillips and Zamperini had survived. Many years later, my father learned that his aircraft had directly overflown the survivors' raft on the third day. (More on this story in my book.) Dad was amazed and saddened that they had missed seeing the raft.