Frank Mike Zabkar was born in LaSalle, Illinois, on 8 June 1911, to Austrian immigrants Michael and Sophia Cujnik Zabkar. Frank’s father Michael was from the Zupeca Vas area while his mother Sophia had lived in Grandise. Both of his parents left their homeland at the turn of the century to travel to America when they were in their mid-twenties. They married in LaSalle on the first of January in 1900, and had their first child who they named Sophie a little over a year later. Michael supported the family working as a laborer at the local zinc works.
Eventually Frank’s parents had several more children but sadly lost three of them at a young age before Frank was born. So Frank grew up with the couple’s three older surviving children: Sophie, Antoinette, and Christine. On Frank’s seventh birthday tragedy again struck the Zabkar family when Frank’s mother Sophia contracted typhoid in the summer of 1918. While his mother was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in LaSalle for care, she succumbed to the disease two days later leaving his father to raise Frank and his three sisters.
At the time of his mother’s death, Frank’s family was living in the 1200 block of First street in LaSalle where his father worked as a soft drink dispenser. A couple years later in 1920, Frank’s sister Sophia married Stanley Koskosky. And the next year in the summer of 1921, the family celebrated another marriage when Frank’s father married Francisca Filipic. Tragically, in 1925 when Frank was 14 years old, his father passed away at age 50 from pneumonia three days before Christmas. Less than a year after losing their father, Frank’s sister Antoinette married Adolph Smudzinski on 15 October 1926.
Five years after his father died, Frank was living in a rented home at 917 First street in LaSalle with his two sisters Sophia and Antoinette and their families. Frank was 18 years old and working as a laborer on a farm. By 1940, Frank had married and was working as a porter in a tavern for his brother-in-law Stanley Koskosky. He and his wife Adeline were living in a home they had purchased at 237 LaHarpe street not far from where he grew up on First street.
Frank registered for the draft on 16 October 1940, and enlisted in the U.S. Army on 26 November 1943. He was initially assigned to the 86th Replacement Battalion and later, on 19 July 1944, transferred to Company B of the 137th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Infantry Division.
During the first several days in his new unit, Private Frank Zabkar faced heavy artillery and mortar fire as his battalion maneuvered through France. On July 31st, his regiment lost two soldiers and nineteen were wounded. The next day, August 1st, Private Frank Zabkar’s company was advancing towards Brectouville when they were met with heavy enemy machine gun and mortar fire. Despite the challenges, Frank’s company pushed forward and managed to advance 1000 yards before being cut off by enemy fire. It was during this advance that Private Frank Zabkar was tragically hit in the back by a bullet and killed.
Frank’s body was buried in a temporary grave and later returned in 1948 to his family in the United States. He was buried in St. Vincent Cemetery in LaSalle. For his service, Frank received the American Campaign Medal, the World War 2 Victory Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and a Combat Infantryman Badge. May his sacrifice and dedication to his country always be remembered.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 421,000+ of the US WWII fallen saved on Together We Served and Fold3. Can you help write these stories? These stories will be accessible via smartphone app at any war memorial or cemetery.
If you noticed anything erroneous in this profile or have additional information to contribute to it, please email email@example.com.
- SBTS Historian: Pam Broviak
- 1910 U.S. Census, Michael Sabkar, Ancestry.
- 1920 U.S. Census, Michael Zabkar, Ancestry.
- 1930 U.S. Census, Stanley Koskosky, Ancestry.
- 1940 U.S. Census, Frank Zabkar, Ancestry.
- “Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940,” Michael Zabkar to Sophia Cujnik, 1900, database with images, FamilySearch.
- “Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940,” Michal Zabkar to Francisca Filipic, 1921, database with images, FamilySearch.
- “Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947,” Sofia Zabka, 1918, database, FamilySearch.
- “U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995,” LaSalle, 1917, Mike Zabkar, p. 422, Ancestry.
- “Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916–1947,” Michael Zabkar, 1925, database, FamilySearch.
- “Service to be on Wednesday for Smudzinski,” Princeton Bureau County Record, 27 July 1976, p. 3, NewspaperArchive.
- “U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947,” Frank Mike Zabkar, Ancestry.
- Special Troops 137th Infantry Regiment, “Combat History of the 137th Infantry Regiment, World War II,” Army & Navy Publishing Company, Baton Rouge, 1946, Fold3.
- Company Morning Report, Co B 137th Infantry Regiment, 19 July 1944, 134th Infantry Regiment Website.
- Company Morning Report, Co B 137th Infantry Regiment, 2 August 1944, 134th Infantry Regiment Website.
- U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954, Service No. 36775615, Fold3.
- U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970,” Frank M. Zabkar, Ancestry.
1 thought on “PVT Frank Mike Zabkar, Service No. 36775615”
Comments are closed.