Lieberman, Burton

Burton Lieberman was born February 8, 1926 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Burton’s parents made their way to Pittsburgh from elsewhere:  his mother was born into a large Jewish family in New York City, while his father escaped the pogroms in Russia at the turn-of-the-century, arriving in Baltimore at the age of 14.  They met and married in the early 1920s, and would raise Burton and his two sisters in an observant Jewish family.  Burton’s father was a kosher butcher who was able to hold on to his job at a local grocery store, so the family was insulated from the worst of the Great Depression.  He did see the shantytowns and the CCC men at work in the local park, so Burton was aware of what other families were; he was also aware of events in Europe, as most of his father’s family was still in Lithuania, in the USSR.  Burton watched as his father did what he could, which was unfortunately very little; most of those distant family members would be murdered in the Holocaust to come.  When the war came, Burton made the decision to enlist in the US Navy; he did not want to experience the army conditions he had heard about, and the navy promised a clean bed and a chance to see the world.  He was trained in Maryland, and his first ship assignment was on the USS Borie.  From there he was transferred to the USS Gandy, and he began to do Atlantic convoy crossings on that destroyer escort ship.  Burton was a yeoman, and he also worked in the radar room and electronics shack; like the rest of the crew on the ship he endured weather and crowded conditions, and the looming threat of U-boat attacks.  On their last crossing in May 1945 they learned of the German surrender and the end of the European war; the ship was ordered to the Panama Canal, and the Pacific war.  They first went to San Francisco, where they were armed with a full complement of munitions, and from there it was on to Hawaii and the islands of the south Pacific, where they engaged Japanese submarines.  Burton transferred to the USS Roche at this time; the next stop was Tokyo Bay, where the Roche escorted the USS Florence Nightingale.  Soon after the Roche hit a sea mine and the ship was crippled; they were fortunate to be towed to Yokosuka, Japan, where the men went ashore.  In his time there Burton met many locals, and they and he broke down barriers and stereotypes.  Burton also accepted an army assignment, and took on the task of keeping the army of occupation troops entertained.  He eventually got back on a ship and headed back to the United States, ready to rejoin normal life.  Crestwood students were able to zoom with Burton Lieberman on January 28, 2023.  His daughter Sharon also did an interview with him, which has fantastic information about Pittsburgh in the 1930s, and that interview is blended into the zoom.