SALEM — Brigadier Gen. Albin Irzyk, a Salem native and career soldier for whom the city's Irzyk Park is named, died at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Sept. 10. He was 101.
Irzyk, who was a 27-year-old tank battalion commander in Gen. George Patton's 3rd Army during World War II, fought in five campaigns across the European continent and was wounded twice in battle. He received many decorations for valor, including the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism. The citation for that honor included this description of his actions on March 18, 1945:
"During the advance of Colonel Irzyk's battalion against Wolfsheim, Germany, four of the assaulting tanks were knocked out in a sudden enemy attack, and the leading company was disorganized. Colonel Irzyk immediately advanced to the head of the column, and with all guns firing charged headlong against the opposing anti-tank guns. The guns were overrun, and pushing rapidly ahead, Colonel Irzyk led his command on into the town. When his tank was destroyed by enemy rocket fire, Colonel Irzyk dismounted, and although wounded, led infantry forces forward through a hail of fire. He continued to direct the attack until the mission was accomplished."
Irzyk also served during the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and later in Vietnam. His last assignment before retiring in 1971 was commanding general of Ft. Devens in Massachusetts.
A graduate of Salem High School, where he was voted most likely to succeed, Irzyk he went on to what is now the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, graduating with a bachelor's degree in English in 1940. That summer he joined the Army.
He maintained a love of his hometown, and in 1999 the city renamed Memorial Park on Fort Avenue in his honor. Its focal point is a World War II-era tank that Irzyk arranged to have donated to the city.
He leaves his wife of 72 years, Evelyn; three children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Burial is in Arlington National Cemetery.