Brigadier General Albin Irzyk - US Army - WWII - West Palm Beach, FL
Following his retirement, General Irzyk was the General Manager and Headmaster of a private school in Palm Beach. Upon completion of that assignment, he served on the local boards of the American Red Cross, Rotary and United Way where he was instrumental in creating the Consumer Credit Counseling and Information and Referral Service.
Late in his career he became an author with his first book – “He Rode Up Front for Patton.” This was followed by 4 other books and at age 99 completed his 6th book about the 8,h Tank Battalion, 4,h Armored Division, the unit he fought with and led in World War II.
Following his second retirement from community service. General Irzyk was a frequent guest speaker at Veteran’s meetings, ceremonies, parades and dedications. He was a founding member and continues as the Vice Chair of the South Florida Chapter of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. In addition he has made numerous talks at schools of all levels to discuss the holocaust and what he encountered in April of 1945 when his battalion liberated the first concentration camp in Germany.
General Irzyk has been made an Honorary Life Member of the Unites States Army Brotherhood of Tankers, (USABOT). He continues to provide video documentation of his service in the Army covering his times as a young Horse Cavalry officer with the 3rd Cavalry regiment to his days in Vietnam as the Assistant Division commander of the 4th Infantry Division. He is now also providing his experiences to the Association of the United States Army, (AUSA), to be utilized in their efforts to teach our current NCO Corp the lessons learned by his experiences.
- Born in Salem, Mass. Graduate, Salem Classical and High School, 1934. Recipient of the Dartmouth Alumni gold medal for All Around Achievement, as most likely to succeed. Lettered in baseball. The City named a park for him in 1999. In 2005 he was inducted into the High School Achievement Hall of Fame.
- Graduated in 1940 at Mass. State College (now UMASS). Received BA degree, and a commission as a 2d. Lt. Cavalry (horse) Reserve. Was President of Adelphia Honorary Society, served two years on the Student Senate. Received 3 letters each in baseball and football. Was awarded the Leon Pond Memorial Medal for football excellence. The college student newspaper of May/June 1940 declared him “Man of the Year.” In 1964 Sports Illustrated Magazine, selected him as a Football Silver Anniversary All American.
- He began his military career on 1 July 1940 with the 3d U. S. Cavalry Regiment at Fort Ethan, VT. His Regimental Commander was Col. George S. Patton, Jr. He trained on horses until May 1942, and was on hand at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga when the horses were loaded on trains and the Cavalry, the Army’s oldest branch, ceased to exist.
- Shortly after, he was ordered to the 4th Armored Division at Pine Camp, NY. He trained with the division on Tennessee Maneuvers, 7 months in the Mojave Desert, and at Camp Bowie, TX. It was from there that the Division shipped out for Europe.
- WW II. He fought five campaigns in Europe as a 27 year old Tank Battalion Commander (76 tanks) in the famed Fourth Armored Division which spearheaded Gen. Patton’s Third Army all across Europe, and which relieved the surrounded forces in Bastogne. He was wounded twice (2 Purple Hearts), was awarded for extraordinary heroism the Distinguished Servce Cross, and holds the Silver Star (1 OLC), and Bronze Star (3 OLC). Also: Legion of Merit (2 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (1 OLC), French Croix de Guerre, French Legion of Honor, Czechslovakian War Cross, and others.
- OCCUPATION OF GERMANY: Served as Brigade S3 and Executive Officer in the United States Constabulary, 1946/47.
- COLD WAR: He commanded the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the NATO “trip wire” responsible for 200 miles of the “Iron Curtain”and the Fulda Gap. His command was at maximum alert during the Berlin Crisis in August 1961 when the Berlin Wall went up, and Krushchev threatened to block U.S. access to Berlin.
- VIETNAM WAR: Served there for two years. He was Commanding General of Headquarters Area Command (HAC) during the TET Offensive of 1968. His Miltary Police and Reaction Fores saved the U.S.Embassy and Saigon. During his second year as Assistant Division Commander of the 4th Infantry Division he had over 600 combat hours in a helocopter supervising combat operations. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, and 11 Air Medals. Also awarded: Chuong My Medal 1st Class, (Korea), Gallantry Cross w/Gold Star (VN), Army Distinguished Service Order 1st Class (VN) and others.
- MAJOR STAFFS: Served on staff of the Commander in Chief, Pacific in Hawaii, and on the Military Staff of the Commander Allied Land Forces Central Europe (NATO) in Fontainebleu, France. He was a U.S. delegate to several SEATO Conferences in such locations as Aukland, NZ., Melbourne, Aust. Thailand, Singapore, and Manila.
- EDUCATION: Holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from American University, Wash. D.C.. He is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, KS, and the National War College, Wash. D.C.
- COMMAND ASSIGNMENTS. For periods of time he commanded Ft. Knox, Ky., Ft. Dix NJ, and Ft. Devens, Mass., and for two years he headed the U.S. Army Armor School.
- SPECIAL RECOGNITION: As departing President of the European Council of Catholic Men, he was awarded the Sir Thomas Moore ( Bronze Bust) award. The UMASS Alumni Association has presented him with its Distinguished Achievement for Public Service award. The U.S. Armor Association has honored him with the prestigious Order of St. George. The Community of Chaumont, Belgium named a park for him in 2009.
- COMMUNITY SERVICE: Was General Manager and for a time the Headmaster of a private College Preparatory School. He served on such boards as American Red Cross, Rotary, and the United Way. During his close association with the Unted Way, he was instrumental in organizing Consumer Credit Counseling and and Information and Referral Service.
- PERSONAL: He retired from the Army in 1971 at Fort Devens Mass., where he was the Commanding General. He and his wife, Evelyn, quickly settled in at West Palm Beach, where they still reside. He and Evelyn have been married for over 70 years. Their son is a graduate of West Point, and is currently CEO of a Dstribution Center. Both of their daughters are married to retired Marine Corps Generals. The family includes five grandchildren and four great grand children. In retirement he has written magazine articles, and has had five books published. They are: “He Rode Up Front for Patton”, “Gasoline To Patton, A Different War”, “The 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment during the Berlin Crisis, 1961., “Unsung Heroes Saving Saigon”,” A Warrior’s Quilt of Personal History.”
- RECENT ACTIVITY: At the age of 99 he has completed his sixth book, which is now in the hands of a publisher. He was recently notified by the Belgian Government that he has been awarded the very pretigious Officer in the Order of the Crown of Belgium.
- SPECIAL INTEREST: He rode a horse and led his Machine Gun Platoon whose members were brand new draftees three months before, and now rode a horse and led another, and were led by Gen.Marshall (mounted) in the Third Inaugural Parade of President Roosevelt on January 20, 1941.
- SPECIAL INTEREST: His 8th Tank Battalion liberated the first Concentration Camp overrun by American forces. It was the Ohrdruf Camp ( also No. Stalag III) at Ohrdruf, Germany on April 4, 1945.