Reading an interesting tale on the exceptionally interesting life experiences of Louis Zamperini.
Lt. Louis Zamperini was a bombardier. His position is located in the nose of the aircraft.
I want to share a quick paragraph from the beginning of the book, She impressively weaves a personal tale with some excellent research into Army Air Forces and the role of the B-24 Liberator, the far less glamorous first cousin of the Flying Fortress. Losses all across the air corps were staggering, 70%the result of accidents, versus 30% combat losses, most the result of pilot error or bad weather, or a combination of both and the sheer vastness of the Pacific.
Anyway, here is the setup: A 19 yr. old Zamperini, who only recently took up running, qualified for the 1936 Olympic team after a remarkable freshman year in college. At the 5K meters, its a field dominated by the Finns, namely Gunnar Hockert and Lauri Lehtinen. Zamperini is with the greatest runners in the world in Berlin.
"As Louie flew around the last bend, Hockert had already won, with Lehtinen behind him. Louie wasnt watchng them. He was chasing the glossy head, still distant. He heard a gathering roar and realized the crowd had caught sight of his rally and was shouting him on. Even Hitler, who had been contorting himself in concert with the athletes, was watching him. Louie ran on, Pete's words beating in his head, his whole body burning. The shining hair was far away, then nearer. Then it was so close that Louie again smelled the pomade. With the last of his strength, Louie threw himself over the line. He had made up fifty yards in the final lap and beaten his personal best time by eight seconds. His final time, 14:46.8, was by far the fastest 5,000 run by any American in 1936, almost twelve seconds faster than Lash's best for the year. He just missed seventh place.
As Louie bent, gasping, over his spent legs, he marveled at the kick that he had forced from his body. It had felt very, very fast. Two coaches hurried up, gaping at their stopwatches, on which they had clocked his final lap. Both watches showed precisely the same time.
In distance running in the 1930's, it was exceptionally rare for a man to run a last lap in one minute. This rule held for even the comparatively short hop of a mile: In the three fastest miles ever ran, the winners final lap had been clocked at 61.2, 58.9 and 59.1 seconds. No lap in those three historic performances had been faster than 58.9. In the 5,000 meters, well over three miles, turning a final lap in less than 70 seconds was a monumental feat. In his record breaking 1932 Olympic 5,000, Lehinten had spun his final lap in 69. 2 seconds.
Louie had run his last lap in 56 seconds.
After cleaning himself up, Louie climbed into the stands. Nearby, Adolf Hitler sat in his box, among his entourage. Someone pointed out a cadaverous man near Hitler and told Louie it was Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda. Louie had never heard of him. Pulling out his camera, he carried it to Goebbels and asked him if he would snap a picture of the fuhrer. Goebbels asked him his name and his event, then took his camera, moved away, snapped a photo, spoke with Hitler, returned, and told Louie the Fuhrer would like to have a word with him.
Louie was led into the fuhrers section. Hitler bent from his box, smiled, and offered his hand. Louie, standing below, had to reach far up Their fingers barely touched. Hitler said something in German. An interpreter translated.
"Ah, you're the boy with the fast finish."