History came alive this past September at Daemen College as General Albin F. Irzyk (Ret) captivated an audience of faculty, students, local veterans and community members speaking about his firsthand experiences of World War II.
The 95-year-old General Irzyk came to Daemen with his wife of 65 years, Evelyn, on the invitation of college president, Dr. Edwin Clausen and the evening presentation was inspiring, entertaining and often sobering. The General offered vivid remembrances of American soldiers battling Hitler’s forces across post-D Day Europe, freezing through the critical Battle of the Bulge, all while spearheading General George S. Patton’s Third Army into Germany.
General Irzyk served in the European theater of WWII as a 27-year old tank battalion commander in the famed 4th Armored Division of Patton’s army. General Irzyk spoke with great passion as he told stories of fighting with the Third Army and of meeting Patton himself in a small war-torn town in France.
“We had been told he was coming to review our unit, we knew the day, but we didn’t know exactly when,” General Irzyk recalled. “Early that morning, I heard a tremendous squealing of brakes, andsuddenly a jeep appeared, turning a corner in the dirt road on two wheels. It was General Patton and his driver. The jeep driver slammed to a stop just a few feet from me, and the General jumped out, three stars on his helmet, and each collar, walking directly towards me. It was hard to believe it was him!”
A hush fell over the Daemen audience as General Irzyk described the horrors he encountered in the German town of Ohrdruf where he and 4th Armored Division soldiers were the first to discover and liberate a Nazi concentration camp.
Following WWII, General Irzyk commanded the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment, along the “Iron Curtain” at maximum alert during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. His decorations for valor include four Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars, and the Distinguished Service Cross for Extraordinary Heroism. He was also awarded two Purple Hearts for battlefield wounds.
General Irzyk is the author of numerous articles and five books, including his latest, “A Warrior’s Quilt of Personal Military History”. He has described his service to our country to be his life’s work.