Just months before the movie about his life is set to hit the big screen, Louis Zamperini has passed away at the age of 97. The former Olympian and WWII survivor was working with Angelina Jolie on her second directorial attempt Unbroken, which tells his courageous story about survival.
The veteran’s family released a statement on Thursday, announcing that Louis had died after a 40-day battle with life-threatening pneumonia.
“It is a loss impossible to describe,” Angelina said. “We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly.”
When Louis was fighting in WWII, his plane was shot down and he was forced to survive in a life raft for more than 40 days. Once he was “rescued,” he was taken was a prisoner of war and tortured by the Japanese for nearly two years before finally returning home.
Unbroken hits theaters on Dec. 25.