PALM BEACH, Fla. - Brig. Gen. Albin Irzyk, retired, the oldest living 3rd Cavalry Regiment veteran, recently celebrated his 99th birthday here alongside Troopers from the regiment.The Brave Rifles sent leaders Jan. 24 from Irzyk's old squadron to visit, recollect and celebrate Irzyk's birthday with him and his wife Evelyn.
Irzyk, a Massachusetts native, was commissioned into the Army in 1940 at Camp Ethan Allen, Vermont.
"George S. Patton was my first commander in the 3d Cavalry Regiment," Irzyk said.He went on to cover many details of his time in the early 1940s, including training on horses when the Brave Rifles were truly mounted riflemen, he said.As a young 2nd Lt., Irzyk was selected to command Charlie Troop, and recalled his men as "A tough group of men, that all had six-to-nine-years of service."Irzyk assisted relocating the regiment from Vermont to Fort Myer, Virginia. There, they continued mounted training, but also conducted funerals at Arlington National Cemetery and ceremonies in the Washington D.C. region - to include the inauguration of President Roosevelt.Capt. Elias Isreal, current commander of Charlie Troop, 76 years separated from Irzyk but in the same position, said meeting Irzyk was a privilege.
"It was like talking to a living history book," said Isreal. "I was honored to be able to meet him."
Lt. Col. Jason Davis, 1st Squadron commander, also made the trip from Fort Hood, Texas, to meet with Irzyk."The visit was very enlightening," said Davis. "The topics he highlighted were some of the same issues that we deal with today."
Command Sgt. Maj. Harvey Reed, retired, executive director of the 3rd Cavalry Association, spearheaded the trip for the Brave Rifles. Reed, along with the other Troopers, presented Irzyk with a plaque, a spur-shaped necklace for Evelyn, and a few other Brave Rifles branded items provided by the association.
Irzyk had a very long career that lasted into the 1970s. He was involved in historic American moments such as the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, all the way to conflicts in Saigon during the Vietnam War.He has also written numerous publications to assist current service members to help them better understand their profession.
"I've had a fabulous career that has left me with wonderful stories to tell," said Irzyk. "This visit by you Troopers is very meaningful and impressive. You Troopers are an absolute treasure."