CPL Robert W. McBurney was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania to Robert Frank and Bertha Lanra (Kelly) McBurney. His father worked as a clerk on the Pennsylvania Rail Road. In 1939 he married Evelyn May Lytle. He was drafted in April 1943 and ultimately assigned to K Company 116th Infantry on 6 Sep 1944.
All 3 of his brothers also served during the war. One was drafted, one was federalized with his National Guard unit and one enlisted. All his brothers survived the war.