Cissy Zamperini, the wife of famed Olympian and WWII hero Louis Zamperini, is a woman whose story deserves to be told. While her husband’s accomplishments are well-known, Cissy’s own experiences and contributions to society are often overlooked. In this article, we will take a closer look at the life of Cissy Zamperini and shed light on the woman behind the man.
Born in 1922 in Torrance, California, Cynthia Applewhite (later known as Cissy Zamperini) grew up in a family of five children. Her father, an oil field worker, moved the family around often, which meant that Cissy attended several different schools throughout her childhood. Despite the frequent disruptions to her education, Cissy was a gifted student and graduated from high school at just sixteen years old.
Marriage to Louis Zamperini
In 1941, Cissy married Louis Zamperini, a talented runner who would go on to become an Olympic athlete. When Louis was drafted into the Army Air Forces in 1942, Cissy joined him in moving to different military bases throughout the country. During this time, she worked as a nurse’s aide and volunteered for the Red Cross.
Louis’s Captivity and Return Home
In 1943, Louis’s plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean, and he and two other crew members were stranded on a life raft for 47 days before being captured by the Japanese. Louis spent the next two and a half years in a series of brutal prisoner-of-war camps. During this time, Cissy had no idea whether he was alive or dead.
When Louis was finally liberated in 1945, he was emaciated and suffering from various illnesses. Cissy played a crucial role in nursing him back to health and supporting him as he adjusted to civilian life once again. Their marriage endured despite the many challenges they faced.
Later Life and Legacy
After Louis’s return from the war, Cissy supported him as he struggled with PTSD and alcoholism. She also helped him find a successful business and raise their two children. In 2014, the couple’s story was immortalized in the book and subsequent movie “Unbroken.”
Today, Cissy Zamperini is remembered as a devoted wife and mother, as well as a woman who played a vital role in supporting her husband’s achievements. While her own accomplishments may not be as well-known, her legacy lives on through her family and the many lives she touched throughout her lifetime.
In conclusion, Cissy Zamperini’s life is a testament to the strength and resilience of women. Despite facing numerous challenges, she remained steadfast in her support of her husband and family. While her story may not be as well-known as Louis’s, it is a story that deserves to be told and remembered. By sharing her story, we can honor the contributions of women like Cissy who played a vital role in shaping our history.