The 700 Club with Pat Robertson



Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In written by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin, Dey St Books, 2014

Unbroken, Universal Pictures, in theaters December 25th


Guest Bio

Son of 'Unbroken's' Louis Zamperini Remembers His Father's Legacy A HERO                    

Luke’s father, Louis (also known as Louie), was widely celebrated for his World War II survival story.  While serving as a U.S. Army Air Force bombardier in 1943, his crew’s B-24 crashed into the Pacific Ocean.  Louie was among the three survivors.  Stranded on a life raft in the middle of the ocean, they subsisted on rainwater and raw albatross while fending off sharks and waiting for help.  On the 33rd day, one survivor died.  Louie appealed to God, “I promise to seek you and serve you if you just let me live.”  On the 47th day, Louie was rescued by the Japanese.  He was tortured for two and a half years.  When the war ended, Louie made it home and was hailed as a hero.  Then, his astonishing story was forgotten.  After his homecoming glory faded, Louis floundered.  He grappled with frustration, anger and PTSD.  He drank and picked fights.  He also had constant nightmares about killing the “Bird,” the cruel Japanese prison guard who took delight in humiliating and beating Louis. 

In 1949, Louis heard Billy Graham under a tent on a Los Angeles street corner.  He gave his life to the Lord and the drinking, fighting and nightmares stopped.  A year later, Louis returned to Japan determined to forgive his prison guards.  Back at home, Louis remembered the promise he made to God that night in the Pacific.  That day, he began his life of service through charitable acts and sharing his story.  “I’m just a grateful survivor who realized I had something to give, and became devoted to setting an example for others by being prepared, by having the proper attitudes and by trying to inspire,” Louis said. 

Shortly before the 1998 Winter Olympics at Nagano, Japan, which is located near his last prison camp, Louie was “rediscovered” by CBS Sports.  Author Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling biography, Unbroken, inspired the major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie.  Hailed as a hero again, Louis lived an active, purposeful life until his death at age 97 on July 2, 2014.


Louis wrote, “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In,” during the final year of his life. He used the hardships and triumphs of his life to encourage others to keep trying, keep believing in themselves and to heed the wisdom of his favorite Bible verse:  All things work together for good.  In his book, Louis offers nuggets of advice on living an honorable life and uses the tales of his adventures and ordeals before, during and after the war.  He includes stories of growing up and causing trouble as an adolescent in Torrance, California.   Then he shares about getting on track later through competitive running, a discipline that not only made him a contender for the Berlin Olympics but also armed him with the mental toughness to withstand sadistic abuse as a POW.  He also founded the non-profit Victory Boys Camp to help troubled kids build survival skills and self esteem. 

Luke, 61, says his dad was his hero because he was his dad.  He recalls his father being a loving, supporting dad who exercised great wisdom dealing with Luke and his sister. “He wanted us to have a relationship with Christ.  How great is that?” says Luke.  Luke was somewhat aware of his father’s heroism.  Reading the book and seeing the movie about his father just reinforces the fact that what his dad did was extraordinary.   “As a youngster, you are impacted by how your parent treats you rather than the stories about them,” says Luke.  “His adventures were my bedtime stories.”  Luke was 7 years old when he made a decision to accept Christ.  Though he strayed as a young man, Luke rededicated his life in his 20s.  He met and married a Christian woman.  At their wedding, Louis said he had been praying for 20 years for Luke to turn himself around. 

Luke says his dad sold the rights to his story to Universal Pictures in 1956.  “This movie, Unbroken, was 57 years in the making.  He was very happy to have it made.”  Louis and Angelina Jolie were very close.  She read the book about his life and fell in love with him from reading about him.  Then Angelina discovered he was literally 2 blocks away. “She got involved with our family.  Dad loved her and her entire family.  And she loved Dad.  She and Brad came to our side when dad passed away,” says Luke.  After Louis died, Luke expressed disappointment to Angelina that his father never got a chance to see the movie of his life.  Angelina told Luke she took her laptop into ICU and she and Louis watched the movie together.

Louis died of congestive heart failure, which resulted in pneumonia.  He had been giving speeches up until the time he was hospitalized.  He was in the hospital for 50 days, 40 of which were on a ventilator.  “We had been trying to wean him off,” says Luke, who communicated with his dad while he was intubated.  When he got off the ventilator, Louie discovered he didn’t have the strength to clear his own lungs.  “That’s when we knew it was over,” says Luke.  Doctors briefed the family and Luke told his dad what the doctors said.  “I went in and told him,” says Luke.  “He knew what was going on.  That gave us a chance to pray with him, say goodbyes, sing hymns, read scripture.”  Luke says the day after his dad died, they were watching the news and came across Tom Brokaw who said on air, “Louis Zamperini fought until the end.  He never gave up. He just ran out of time.”  (Tom wrote The Greatest Generation and later wrote to Louis saying, “I can’t believe I missed you when I wrote that book.” ) He interviewed Louis and Angelina a year ago.

When asked how he thinks his father would want to be remembered, Luke says, “My dad would foremost want to be remembered as a Christian.  Then second as someone who didn’t give up or give in, who fought the good fight.  He’s the greatest man I’ve ever known.”  Louie told his book collaborator, David Rensin, shortly before he passed away, “I just want to be remembered for my charitable heart.”

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