101-year-old WWII veteran from Norwood Park returns from ‘Operation Pheasant’ events in Europe
by BRIAN NADIG
101-year-old Norwood Park resident and World War II veteran Frank Fabianski has returned from recent ceremonies in Europe celebrating the 79th anniversary of the Allies Forces clearing German troops from parts of the Netherlands.
“He loved it. He was treated like a king,” his daughter Paulette Stith said of the overseas trip. “He had the opportunity to talk about things he hasn’t talked about” since the war.
He now lives at the Amazing Grace Senior Living, 7432 W. Talcott Ave.
Fabianski was given a military jacket with his technician third class rank on it and got to review the troops before battle re-enactments that took place last month. He also attended a variety commemorative events, including a visit to a military museum in Achtmaal, Holland, that is dedicated to the Timberwolves 104th Infantry Division which Fabianski served in and which played a large role in freeing the Netherlands and Belgium.
Fabianski, who went to Lane Tech High School, enlisted in the military in 1942 at the age of 21 despite having a low lottery number for the draft. “My buddies were all gone. What was I going to do here?” he said last month.
He served as a cryptographer in the 104th, which was part of “Operation Pheasant,” the mission that liberated the Netherlands and Belgium. His role was to decipher coded messages which U.S. generals sent each other so that their contents could remain hidden in the event the communications fell into the wrong hands.
Special machines were used for the decoding. “They were kept in two safes,” he said, adding that the cryptographers had to go through extensive background checks given the sensitive nature of the messages.
Fabianski was in multiple countries during the war, suffering an injury while in Germany in 1944 and earning a Purple Heart. His brothers Ed and Chester also served, and Ed was able to visit him during his recovery.