Louis Zamperini To Be Honored On 90th Birthday

Jan. 10, 2007

Louis Zamperini, who was one of USC's greatest distance runners and gained international acclaim for his amazing exploits during World War II, will be honored at a dinner celebrating his 90th birthday on Friday, Jan. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at USC's Town & Gown.

The evening will be a tribute to Zamperini's life, with a video presentation and remarks from some of his associates. Christopher Parkening, the nation's top guitar virtuoso, will perform. Former USC All-American swimmer John Naber, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and now a sports announcer, will serve as master of ceremonies.

Funds raised at the dinner will go towards Zamperini's Victory Boys Camp, which inspires local youth to emulate his life, and also will help commission a statue in his honor that will be placed in Zamperini Plaza at USC's Loker Track Stadium.

The Zamperini Trophy, an annual award that will be presented annually to the most inspirational athlete on USC's track team, will be unveiled at the dinner.

Tables and seats for the dinner are available by contacting Friends of Louis Zamperini, P.O. Box 50107, Pasadena, Calif., 91115 or emailing John@JohnNaber.com. Personal messages can be included in the tribute's printed program for a tax deductible contribution.

A 3-year USC letterman (1938-39-40) who co-captained the 1940 Trojan squad and was a member of 3 NCAA championship teams, Zamperini was the NCAA champion in the mile run in 1938 and 1939. The collegiate mile record (4:08.3) that he set lasted for 15 years. He placed eighth in the 5,000-meter run at the 1936 Olympics.

He was lost at sea during World War II, spending 47 days adrift and then two-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in Japan. Following the war, he returned to Japan as a missionary. In 1998, he carried the Olympic torch (his third of five times) through his former POW camp outside Nagano. His experience was the subject of a CBS-TV feature and an upcoming book.

He was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.

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