Summary and Analysis Part II Chapter 11: “Nobody’s Going to Live Through This”



On May 27, 1943, Louie, Phil, and their crew strike out over the Pacific on a rescue mission to find a plane that went missing the day before. They take a new plane, the Green Hornet, and are joined by a new tail gunner, Francis “Mac” McNamara. Partway into their mission, the Green Hornet experiences mechanical failure and plunges into the ocean. Louie is trapped in wires and held underwater, certain he is going to die. He passes out, but miraculously awakens to find himself free of the wires and lunges toward the surface. Louie has survived.


The most important personal aspect of Louie and the crew’s plane crash into the Pacific is the way Louie survives the crash. This event is the first truly unexplainable miracle in Louie’s life. Hillenbrand stops short of crediting God with miraculous intervention, but she can’t rule that out either. Nonetheless, she presents the facts as she understands them: Louie Zamperini is trapped underwater, tied up in wires, and taking in so much seawater that he passes out. He awakens, free of all wires. Is this a kind of physical redemption that’s a harbinger of Louie’s spiritual redemption to come? That’s one question this chapter raises. Did God miraculously save Louie Zamperini from drowning? If yes, then the rest of his life will become an answer to the question, “Why?”