Commander Zabawa is a native of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Navy in 1991. In December 1991, he completed recruit training and EW “A” School and reported to USS THOMAS C. HART (FF-1092), Norfolk, Virginia as an Electronic Warfare Operator. In June 1993, he decommissioned the THOMAS C. HART and transferred to the USS SAN JACINTO (CG-56), Norfolk Virginia, as an EW Supervisor. In 1995, he attended EW “C” School and reported to USS YORKTOWN (CG-48), Pascagoula Mississippi as a SLQ-32A(V)3 Technician. After completing his tour on YORKTOWN he reported back to Navy Technical Training Center Corry Station as an instructor where he earned his Master Training Specialist Qualification. In 2001, he reported to USS WHIDBEY ISLAND (LSD-41) Little Creek, Virginia as the EW CPO. In 2003, he reported to the USS PHILLIPINE SEA (CG-58) Mayport Florida, as the EW CPO and Watch Officer.
On 1 June 2005, CDR Zabawa was commissioned as a 6120 Operations Technical Limited Duty Officer at a ceremony in Mayport, Florida. Since his commissioning, he has served at Naval Ocean Processing Facility, Whidbey Island, Washington from June 2005 to June 2007 as a SURTASS Mission Commander and was IUSS qualified. CDR Zabawa completed an Individual Augment tour to Iraq in February 2005 supporting counter IED operations. In June 2005, he was the Training Officer onboard USS NEW YORK (LPD-21) in Norfolk, Virginia. During this time, he commissioned NEW YORK and obtained his Surface Warfare Officer qualification. In March 2010 he reported to USS CHAFEE (DDG-90), Pearl Harbor, Hawaii as the Combat Information Center Officer and earned a Tactical Action Officer qualification, as well as a Masters Degree in Project Management. After his DDG, tour he reported to Submarine Forces Pacific (SUBPAC) as the TYCOM SURTASS OPS/Plans Officer. CDR Zabawa reported to USS MAKIN ISLAND (LHD-8) as the Assistant Operations Officer in May 2015 where earned another TAO letter. He reported to Center for Surface Combat Systems in July 2017 as an advanced warfare instructor, and in 2018 he attended the ASW/ASUW Warfare Tactics Instructor school in San Diego, California.
CDR Zabawa’s personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (6), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (6) and the Combat Action Ribbon.