U.S. Olympian, WWII hero passes away

Rest in peace, Mr. Zamperini Zamperini.

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Image by wikicommons user floatjon.

Image by wikicommons user floatjon.

An Olympic distance runner and World War II veteran who survived 47 days on a raft in the Pacific after his bomber crashed, then endured two years in Japanese prison camps, has died. Louis Zamperini was 97.

Universal Pictures studio spokesman Michael Moses says Zamperini died Wednesday.

"Having overcome insurmountable odds at every turn in his life, Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini has never broken down from a challenge," the Zamperini family said in a statement. 

"He recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia. After a 40-day long battle for his life, he peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, leaving behind a legacy that has touched so many lives. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these days," the statement said. 

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