History is written by the victors, but even the victors can’t include everything.
So retired Brig. Gen. Albin Irzyk, the last surviving member of Gen. George S. Patton's general staff and who witnessed a lot of history during 30 years in the Army and two bloody wars, decided to put some "overlooked" incidents on the record.
The result is a book, “A Warrior’s Quilt of Personal Military History,” that gathers Irzyk’s accounts of experiences – some of which he had previously written about for magazines – in Europe during World War II and in Vietnam.
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“I submitted selected individuals and actions that I felt should be publicized,” Irzyk told Newsmax TV. “I want them out for the record.”
“A historian evaluates things and he hits what he thinks are important. Some of these are things that I think are important that they overlooked.”
He cites the much-heralded American capture of the Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine at Remagen, Germany, in March 1945. Much less is known about the battle for its twin at Umitz, about 17 miles away
“Urmitz was critical. Urmitz was the last bridge blown over the Rhine River,” Irzyk told Newsmax TV.
He described watching as the long railroad bridge, jammed with retreating Germans, exploded. Soldiers, horses, bicycles, even tanks, went flying into the air and then into the river.
“I never read anything in history about Urmitz so I felt compelled to write about it,” Irzyk said.
Irzyk also writes about his two personal encounters with Gen. George S. Patton, whom he calls “one of the most unique individuals our country has ever had.”
“He was like a valuable diamond with many, many facets,” Irzyk said. “He was the the purest warrior our country has ever had. He was the best field commander, not staff officer, that we ever had.”
In stark contrast to World War II, Irzyk sees the Vietnam War as a time when the U.S. lacked a long period of unified leadership – and the troops sent to Southeast Asia went with a minimum of training.
“When my division, the 4th Armored Division, attacked in Germany, we were as well-trained as we could be,” he said. And after so much training together, “the men got to be a team.”
In Vietnam, however, young American men were shipped out after 16 weeks of training. “Next thing he’s out wallowing around in the swamps and jungles of Vietnam.”
Irzyk also compares the leadership during his two wars.
“In World War II, we had Roosevelt. He and Churchill did a fantastic job of prosecuting World War II,” he said. “In Vietnam, we had five presidents. It went on til 1975.”
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