The Pittsburgh Press (June 5, 1943)
Los Angeles, California (UP) –
Lt. Louis Zamperini, the great mile runner whose personal war with the Axis started in 1936 at the Berlin Olympic Games when he tore down a German flag, is missing in the South Pacific, his mother said today.
Zamperini, holder of the national intercollegiate one- and two-mile run records as well as the national interscholastic mile record, was a bombardier, and had been cited for heroism.
The War Department notified her that he is missing, Mrs. Zamperini said, but gave no details.
Zamperini is a native of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, where many of his relatives still reside.
It was after the Berlin Olympics, when he was 18 years old, that Zamperini provoked international comment by snatching a Nazi flag from in front of Hitler’s Chancellery.
Smuggled flag home
Guards fired on him but he raced away at his best Olympic pace and eluded pursuit. He hid the flag and managed to smuggle it home. Gen. Werner von Fritsch, since reported killed in action in Poland, excused the youth’s action as a boyish prank.
A phenomenal runner in his high school days, Zamperini went on to the University of Southern California and scored victory after victory. His one-mile time of 4:8.2, was made at Minneapolis June 18, 1938, and his two-mile IC4A record was set here the following year, with a time of 9:12.8.
He has been missing since May 27. Among the bombing forays he had participated in was the Christmas Day raid on Japanese-held Wake Island. He won commendation later for ministering to five wounded crew members on the return trip from another bombing mission, in which their Liberator bomber was badly shot up.
Joined Army in 1941
He was inducted into the Army in 1941 and graduated from bombardier school at Midland, Texas, last August.
He held the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster for two citations. He had participated in engagements at Wake, the Gilberts and Marshalls, and the Bismarck Sea battle.