102-year-old WWII veteran visits Carmel Catholic High School: 'Be thankful for what you have'

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Thursday, April 4, 2024
102-year-old WWII veteran speaks at north suburban high school
A 102-year-old World War II veteran from Chicago, Frank Fabianski, shared his experiences with students at Carmel Catholic High School on Wednesday.

MUNDELEIN, Ill. (WLS) -- A Chicago native who fought in World War II shared his experiences Wednesday with students at Carmel Catholic High School.

Frank Fabianski said he was there for those who can't be.

The 102-year-old World War II veteran and lifelong Chicagoan was joined by his family at Carmel Catholic High School to ensure his powerful story of service and sacrifice is never forgotten.

"Be thankful for what you have... make it better," Fabianski said.

It is motivating message for generations to come from Fabianski, who never second guessed serving his country.

"I decided to join and enlist, so that's what I did," Fabianski. "I wanted to join the Army."

Fabianski served in the European theater of war with the 104th Infantry Division, also known as the "Timberwolves." He was a cryptologist, delivering crucial messages up his chain of command.

"You handled top secret stuff," Fabianski said. "Messages that were going from one area to another."

He was awarded the Purple Heart, and he saw the harrows of war first-hand, helping liberate a concentration camp in Germany.

"You see these people walking around half-dead," Fabianski said. "If you looked into the barracks, there were dead people laying around... terrible... terrible."

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Generations later, Fabianski quietly sat Wednesday in front of a packed Carmel Catholic High School auditorium dressed in an army green military jacket.

Fabianski's granddaughter Julie Donner is a Carmel history teacher.

"He won't call himself a hero, but I will call him a hero," Donner said.

She detailed her grandfather's unforgettable experience in the war, and his return to Europe just last year to revisit the towns and villages he helped liberate.

"To be able to walk through museums with my own grandfather and have him say, 'I remember that,' or 'I saw that,' or give me more background on items that sit in a museum... unbelievable," Donner said.

Carmel High School students got an up-close look at his helmet and Purple Heart. They ere grateful for the increasingly rare time with a World War II veteran.

"It was really real to like see all this stuff," sophomore student Logan Jakoubek said. "It was very like supportive to see all the actions people have taken for all the veterans."

"I feel like it put everything into perspective. Like it was so cool to see how much he went through."

Fabianski has a life of service that will never be forgotten.

"I feel like it put everything into perspective," sophomore student Colleen Graham said. "Like it was so cool to see how much he went through."