Our Military Life Blog

Unbroken – Week 3

Families are rocked by the news that their loved ones are missing. There are not answers as to what is going on, but the Zamperini family is sure that Louie is still alive. While they cling to this hope, their friends and neighbors secretly pity them, for hanging onto what they consider false hope. For the family, hope is everything. Louise Zamperini is convinced that her son is still alive, and refuses to believe anything to the contrary. When Sylvia’s husband leaves for the war, she sells all of her possessions and moves back home to help her mother and father. Louise’s hands have become so bad due to the stress her body is under, that she is unable to cook or clean.

While, Louie and Phil are in a POW camps, they are soon sent to separate locations, where they do not know what the fate of their crew mate is. Louie though is unfortunate to come across a guard known as “the Bird”. He is vicious and even though he is lower ranking than most of the men in the camp, his presence is such that even officers defer to him, and everyone is afraid of him. He is determined to break Louie. He sees him as a challenge.

But the POW’s are not completely out of the fight yet. They begin to steal anything they can get their hands on. Food, cigarettes, maps, newspapers, it does not matter the item, they are hauled back into the camp by careful inmates who are determined to do their bit to undermine their captors. Food is stored in secret compartments and given to those who are sick and ailing. While working in yards and other factories, parts are tampered with to make them inoperable, and other acts of sabotage are undertaken. They are refusing to go down without a fight.  But the battle inside the gates is harder to wage. While they take what they can and resist without causing harm to other inmates, most of the guards are unwilling to do anything to cross the Bird. One however, the camp interpreter, does not approve of the tactics that the Bird has employed and takes it upon himself to help those that he can. When one is tied to a tree in the middle of winter, he is observed putting a blanket over the man, only to remove it the next morning before the Bird realizes that the man is receiving aid.

Small bits of news trickles in however, from newer inmates who are brought in, and some messages even get out. Louie is able to do a radio broadcast, which is heard by one of his friends from college. She immediately lets the Zamperini family know, but they are wary of the information. Soon messages are flooding into the family home, with the news that Louie WAS heard on the radio, and that he is still alive.

While he struggles to remain hopeful, and outlast the torment of his captor, he is sick and his resolve is starting to fail. The sights of the B-29 planes overhead are a wonderful sight, but many wonder if they will remain long enough to see the liberation of their camp, or if they will become another number.

This week we are reading Chapters 21-30


  1. As the war rages, Louie is doing his best to remain alive, scavenging and stealing food where he can. Do you think the challenges he put to himself as a child enabled his survival in the camp?
  2. Soldiers held in POW camps begin to sabotage the equipment and supplies they are working with, at great peril to themselves. Could you do it?
  3. Survival is the one thing getting the POW’s through their ordeal, as well as hope for rescue. Could they have done anything more to ensure their survival?
  4. Are you enjoying the read so far?