Skip

Mental note: Don't crash into the Pacific Ocean, especially in wartime.
January 15, 2011 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Louie recoiled in horror, jerking his legs to the side, away from the shark's mouth. The shark kept coming, directly at Louie's head. Louie rammed his palm into the tip of the shark's nose. The shark flinched, circled away, then swam back at him again. Louie waited until the shark was inches from him, then struck it on the nose again. Again, the shark peeled away. Above, the bullets stopped coming. As quickly as he could, Louie pulled himself along the cord until he reached the raft. He grabbed its wall and lifted himself clear of the shark.
This quote is from an article about Louis Zamperini, whose planed crashed into the Pacific in 1941. He and two other men, Francis McNamara and Russell Phillips, made it into liferafts. They would drift in the ocean for weeks. The article is by Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit. For more about Zamperini and his amazing story you can go to his website.
posted by Kattullus (24 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mental note: Don't crash into the Pacific Ocean, especially in wartime.

But if you do, and encounter a shark, just slap it on the nose.
posted by orange swan at 7:12 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


And Zamperini is still alive, holy cow.
posted by jeanmari at 7:37 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Amazing. About twenty minutes ago I finished reading Unbroken, Hillenbrand's book about Zamperini. Gripping read. Things just kept getting worse and worse for him. Very sad to think humans were capable of inflicting such horrors on each other.
posted by bondcliff at 7:46 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


A film based on his life story and starring Nicolas Cage is under development. The poor man was lost at sea, abused by sadistic captors, and now this. How much should one human being have to endure?
posted by Daddy-O at 8:20 PM on January 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


recent studies show one can live on rice, only a rice diet, as the P.O.W.s were given in mimimal amounts, never enough to stop losing weight each day and week. Some P.O.W.s weighed less than 50 lbs. when the war was over. Scary but true, while American held P.O.W.s actually gained some weigh, while held by USA troops.
posted by tustinrick at 8:21 PM on January 15, 2011


How much should one human being have to endure?

OH GOD NOT THE BEES
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:29 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Big fan of Laura Hillenbrand. She has chronic fatigue syndrome...and writes about sports.

I applaud this, rather than people who hate sports just because its their thing to do.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:34 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I opened this thread right after you posted it and have done nothing but look up Pappy Boyington, the F4U Corsair and some goofy ass thing called the "Whiffenpoof song" since.


GOD MAKE IT STOP!
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 9:26 PM on January 15, 2011


"Big fan of Laura Hillenbrand. She has chronic fatigue syndrome..."

Her story of the sudden onset of chronic fatigue is one I find utterly fascinating—and fantastical.
posted by bz at 10:06 PM on January 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


This... is amazing. Thank you.
posted by davidjmcgee at 11:01 PM on January 15, 2011


That was a pretty gripping piece of writing.
posted by dhartung at 11:32 PM on January 15, 2011


Let me get this straight.

1934 - Set a 20-year world interscholastic record in the mile
1938 - Set a 15-year collegiate mile record
1943 - punched a shark in the nose while being shot at by a Japanese plane

I may be impressed.
posted by zippy at 12:53 AM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why didn't the sharks eat Mac? Crap sharks.
posted by a non e mouse at 2:01 AM on January 16, 2011


Sharks with dignity.

Thanks, Kattullus, for the Zamperini story. Thanks to bz also, for the link to Hillenbrand's own story.
posted by krilli at 4:59 AM on January 16, 2011


Great story, thanks Kattullus.
posted by arcticseal at 5:07 AM on January 16, 2011



Very sad to think humans were capable of inflicting such horrors on each other.

You may want to change tense there.
posted by notreally at 5:10 AM on January 16, 2011



I know. But the-were- just seems like maybe we are now less crazy.
posted by notreally at 5:12 AM on January 16, 2011


Amazing story. Thanks.

> I know. But the-were- just seems like maybe we are now less crazy.
posted by notreally


The name refutes the comment!
posted by languagehat at 8:05 AM on January 16, 2011


Definitely puts the three-hour flight delay I experienced in Romania in perspective.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:43 AM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Louie lives next door to a friend of mine and I've hung out with him a few times, and I must say that it's humbling being in the presence of someone who's cut such a wide swath through history. One day he handed me an old wallet and had me look inside where I found several Hawaiian issue wartime dollar bills. He informed me that this was the wallet he was carrying with him when he was shot down in the pacific. He chuckled that due to a secret flap in it his Japanese captors never found and took the bills. In a bizarre nod to protocol they returned the wallet to him at the end of the war. Unsurprisingly he does not hide his continuing contempt for the Japanese as a result of his wartime internment.
posted by gallois at 11:03 AM on January 16, 2011


A terrific read and I found the casually-mentioned comment on cannibalism at sea so interesting that I googled it and found this. Poor Richard Parker. Fascinating stuff.
posted by jeanmari at 12:20 PM on January 16, 2011


I once made a post about cannibalism at sea. Indeed fascinating.
posted by Kattullus at 12:24 PM on January 16, 2011


99 out of 100 Mefi stories educate, anger, or intrigue me. Every now and then one comes across that I am very acquainted with. As a member of the International Society of Olympic Historians, we are always thankful when an Olympian from the old days gets press. We try, but we are no Laura H. Nice job.
posted by Senator at 3:49 PM on January 16, 2011


Mental note: Don't crash into the Pacific Ocean, especially in wartime.

I think I may have a better plan:

Never crash a plane, wartime or not.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:17 AM on January 17, 2011


« Older "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is...   |   The Path Of Wind Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post