Commander Zabawa is a native of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Navy in 1991. In December of 1991, he completed recruit training and EW “A” School and reported to USS THOMAS C. HART (FF 1092) in Norfolk, Virginia as an Electronic Warfare Operator. In June of 1993, he decommissioned the ship and transferred to the USS SAN JACINTO (CG 56) in Norfolk Virginia, as an EW Supervisor. In 1995, he attended EW “C” School and reported to USS YORKTOWN (CG 48) in Pascagoula Mississippi as a SLQ-32A(V)3 Technician. After completing his tour, 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) in Virginia Beach, Virginia as the EW CPO. In 2003, he reported to the USS PHILLIPINE SEA (CG 58) in Mayport Florida as the EW CPO and Watch Officer.
On June 1, 2005, 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 in Whidbey Island, Washington from June of 2005 to June of 2007 as a SURTASS Mission Commander and was IUSS qualified. He completed an Individual Augment tour to Iraq in February of 2005, supporting counter IED operations. In June of 2005, he was the Training Officer onboard USS NEW YORK (LPD 21) in Norfolk, Virginia. During this time, he commissioned the ship and obtained his Surface Warfare Officer qualification. In March of 2010, he reported to USS CHAFEE (DDG 90) in 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 tour, he reported to Submarine Forces Pacific (SUBPAC) as the TYCOM SURTASS OPS/Plans Officer. Zabawa then reported to USS MAKIN ISLAND (LHD 8) as the Assistant Operations Officer in May of 2015, where earned another TAO letter. He reported to Center for Surface Combat Systems in July of 2017 as an advanced warfare instructor, and in 2018, he attended the ASW/ASUW Warfare Tactics Instructor school in San Diego, California.
His personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (6), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (6) and the Combat Action Ribbon.