Francis X. Zweir

  • Private
  • WW II


Francis “Franny” Xavier Zweir was born in Jamestown, Rhode Island on 1 February 1922. He is the son of Stephen and Isabel Zweir. He graduated from De LaSalle High School, Providence, Rhode Island in June 1939. Francis was an outstanding student and participated in many school activities. Francis entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1939 with the class of 1943, majoring in Agriculture. He was a member of Beta Phi Fraternity and participated in the Army ROTC program.

Like so many of his classmates, Francis left RISC prior to graduating. He joined the U.S. Army on 28 December 1942. Private Zweir was assigned to Company L, 358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division at Camp Barkley, Texas. A vigorous training program was instituted for these soldiers who came fresh from civilian life. In basic training at Camp Barkley, they learned how to live as a soldier, participated in daily physical training and learned how to shoot.

There were daylight maneuvers and night tactical problems on barren, rugged terrain. A high state of discipline was maintained throughout all phases of training, and great emphasis was given to close-order drill. Their endurance was tested on many grueling, twenty-five mile hikes. Finally, after eleven months, well trained and disciplined soldiers emerged from these West Texas proving grounds. In early March 1944, the 90th Division was alerted for movement overseas; and on 14 March, they quietly loaded up bag and baggage and sailed for England.

The Regiment was involved in more training and boarded troop ships on 4 June 1944. At eleven o’clock on the morning of 6 June, in the midst of a great display of naval power, the convoy dropped anchor off “Utah Beach.” The landing craft pulled up to the sides of the ships, and the troops began clambering down the landing nets and into the smaller boats. Debarkation started at 1158 hours; and as the craft rammed up on the beach, the men unloaded and waded through the waist-deep waters to the dry sands and made their way inland. For the next six months, the 358th fought their way through France and into Belgium.

On 8 January 1945, the 358th Regiment was in position on the ridges of the Ardennes Forest to cross the Wiltz River some five miles to the east of Bastogne to help relieve the city during the “Battle of the Bulge.” As the 358th was crossing the river in rafts on 15 January 1945, they came under heavy fire from the 39th Regiment of the 1st Panzer Division who were in position on the north side of the river. Private Francis X. Zweir was Killed in Action during the river crossing. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

In 1946, the Arnold-Zweir Post 22 of the American Legion, Jamestown, Rhode Island was named in his memory. The Arnold-Zweir Post 22 of the American Legion flies a flag at Jamestown’s Veterans Memorial Square each year on 15 January in his memory. Private Francis X. Zweir was buried with full military honors in the Luxembourg American Cemetery, Belgium. Private Francis Xavier Zweir was a son of Rhode Island State College who answered the call to service during World War II and gave his life in service to Rhode Island and America. He was another member of the “Greatest Generation.”