For those attending tomorrow’s Memorial Day Parade in Eastchester and Tuckahoe, here’s some information on the Grand Marshal, Anthony Aliberto, courtesy of area historian Michael Fix:
The Eastchester/Tuckahoe Parade Committee announces that their local Grand Marshall for the 2010 Memorial Day Parade will be Mr. Anthony Aliberto of 24 Channing Place. Tony has been a resident of Eastchester since he was born on Columbus Avenue on October 26, 1924. As a young boy, he helped his father in the family bakery.
Long time residents know the story of the Lyric Theater or the “Itch,” (the local movie theater located at the current Wachovia Bank site). On December the 7, 1941, when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, Tony was at the Itch and had paid $.11 to watch westerns, cartoons, the news and two features. The proprieter, Walter Lenhardt, interrupted the movie and walked out onto the stage and told the audience of youngsters what had occurred. Everyone immediately left the afternoon of movies and went home.
Tony continued to work with his dad, but on June 24, 1943, he received a letter from the local draft board. He and four other boys took the New York Central from Tuckahoe to Grand Central and then down to the induction center on Whitehall Street in Manhattan. As a selective volunteer he appeared before a three man board and was asked which branch for which he would be best suited. His reply was the Navy, because he loved the water.
He recalls that his father had taken him to Playland and they always went swimming. His wish was granted; the next was basic training at the U.S. Naval Training Station in Sampson, New York. That training was completed on August 13, 1943.
From Sampson, Tony’s destiny was to be a turret gunner on the USS Miami for the remainder of the war. Looking back, Aliberto became a big brother to the Light Cruiser. He was at Cramp Ship Building, Philadelphia, as part of the nucleus crew to transform the mass of steel into a trim and efficient fighting unit of the Navy. He arrived to see the ships sides unpainted, lines, air hoses, welding leads tangled on her decks and her compartments unfinished.
His time at Cramp yards were spent in more precision firing drills, standing security, and assembling the equipment and supplies necessary to operate the ship. On the day of commissioning, the “plank owner” Seaman Aliberto came aboard with sea bags and hammock. The mass of steel was now his home.
The Miami was commissioned on December 28. 1943.
Outfitting and testing was limited because there was a huge need for cruisers in the war. After a trial run to Trinidad and practices to achieve perfection in performance, the Cruiser(Cl 89) joined the USS Houston and the USS Vincennes in Boston to become part of Cruiser Division Fourteen under Admiral W.D. Baker. The division sailed through the Panama Canal and arrived in Pearl Harbor to become part of Task Force 58.
The purpose of a Task Force is derived by a function. Task Force 58 was to be the main striking force of the U.S. Navy in the second half of World War II. The force saw many great commanders such as Admiral Raymond Spruance, William “Bull” Halsey, and John McCain, Sr. Their leadership brought the sailors of the United States Navy including our Anthony Aliberto into eight battles in the Pacific. Those actions gave all the men in that flotilla of war ships eight battle stars.
The young seaman from Tuckahoe pelted the shores of Iwo Jima, Saipan, Guam, fought off planes in the first and second battle of the Philipines, the Leyte Gulf, and the Mariani Turkey shot.
The only battle that the fleet did not receive a battle star was Typhoon Cobra in December of 1944 that forced all the ships to sway sometimes 45% in the over 100 mile per hour winds. More time in that storm or higher winds could have done more damage to the fleet than any raid of Japanese bombers.
At the end of the war, Tony returned home and married Nancy Candarelli from Tuckahoe. The two continued to live in Town and had five children.
His beloved wife, Nancy, has passed away but Tony is a proud father, grandfather and great grandfather. He will be riding in our Memorial Day parade and the committee hopes that you will come and wave to this humble man who has loved his family, his country and his town.