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A Life Fully Lived

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USC Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, the embodiment of the Fight On spirit, died Wednesday after 97 years of inspirational life. 

zamperini.jpgThe unbreakable Zamperini first distinguished himself as one of Troy's greatest distance runners, captaining the 1940 track and field team, winning the 1938 and 1939 NCAA title in the mile, and setting the collegiate mile record which stood for 15 years.  Before attending USC, he had already competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin finishing eighth in the 5,000 meters.

But USC has had many great runners and Olympians.  Zamperini set himself apart with his heroic service in World War II when he was lost at sea for 47 days before becoming a prisoner of war in Japan.  The story, which became the best-selling book Unbroken, and soon-to-be Hollywood blockbuster scheduled for December release, made him an inspirational icon of "the greatest generation." 

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USC athletic director Pat Haden:  "Louis Zamperini was one of the greatest Trojans of all time, as well as a true American hero.  He was the embodiment of the USC motto, 'Fight On.'  All of us in the Trojan Family have a deep appreciation for what he did for USC and for our country, and we mourn the passing of this American legend."

The flags at USC are at half mast today in honor of a fallen giant, and the Trojan Family and a grateful nation has been reacting all morning.

Former longtime USC track and field head coach Ron Allice:  "Today is a sad day at USC, knowing that the wonderful life of Louis Zamperini has ended after 97 remarkable years.  I can think of no more famous Trojan than Louie, with his combination of athletic exploits and war heroics.  He was one of USC's greatest ambassadors and he never went anywhere without wearing his USC hat.  Even in his later years, he stayed very connected with USC, giving inspirational talks to Trojan teams and in USC classrooms.  The fact that he still is the only Trojan to win the NCAA outdoor mile championship, which he did twice some 75 years ago, speaks volumes of his athletic ability.  I know I will miss him, as will so many others.  He was a great man."

Four-time USC Olympic gold medalist swimmer John Naber, a close associate of Zamperini:   "Louis was very proud of being a Trojan.  He happily wore his USC hat in public and private, and was quick to hug any fellow Trojan.  During his remarkable athletic career as an Olympic runner, by his endurance on the life raft, and with his resilience at the torturous hands of 'The Bird' during World War II, Louis' life exemplified USC's 'Fight On' spirit.  Amazingly, his impact on other people continued as he grew older.  His example inspired thousands to be better people, myself included."

3 Comments

Is USC going to have a Memorial Service for this incredible American Hers and beloved Trojan?

may his soul rest in peace. he will always be remembered

he was the great man
Rest in peace
#FightOnForever

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