Study Guide

Unbroken Chapter 8

By Laura Hillenbrand

Chapter 8

"Only the Laundry Knew How Scared I Was"

  • On January 8, 1943, George Moznette, the Super Man's former copilot, dies in a plane crash.
  • It's only been two months, and Louie already knows men who have died.
  • Seventy percent of men killed between November 1, 1942 and May 25, 1945 die in "operational aircraft accidents" (2.8.9)—in other words, these planes crash more than an Xbox 360.
  • If just flying the plane isn't dangerous enough, there are the Japanese fighter planes, "the swift, agile Zero" (2.8.19) to contend with.
  • Evasive action is impossible when the bombsight is controlling the plane, making a bomber a very dangerous place to be.
  • Also, bombers collide with each other a lot.
  • When a plane goes down, the men have to hope that their air vests, called "Mae Wests" after the busty movie star, inflate.
  • Then they have to hope they're found. Locating a plane in the 1940s is harder than locating a missing Malaysian Air jet today—only thirteen percent of men are rescued, and search planes go down more often than they find the men they're searching for.
  • If they're captured, they have to worry about being taken to the atoll of Kwajalein, which Americans call "Execution Island."
  • Although there are tons of statistics, the men aren't statistics to Louie (remember him? We've barely heard about him this chapter)—they're roommates and drinking buddies.
  • Speaking of drinking, Louie drinks a lot, unwinds by listening to music, and just hopes he won't die.