Appreciate your website.
Glad I was able to find it by searching for "Sky Pirates"
My uncle, Irving "Rusty" Klein, is the I. Klein, ACOM, whose picture is top row, right, on your webpage http://www.vbf-85.com/Enlisted.jpg
He passed away some twenty-four years ago.
Rusty enlisted in the Navy early in 1941 and was sent to Naval Aviation
training in Florida. Prior to assignment to Squadron 85 upon its formation,
he was on two or three other carriers in the Pacific theatre for most of the
duration. Our understanding is that he was originally trained as a rear
gunner for Helldiver divebombers and served in that capacity for a year or
two, till his vision deteriorated and he was "repurposed" as an ordinanceman.
The only story he would tell us curious kids back in the day was about his
training in Florida: He said the first time he went up in a training flight
as a "passenger" in the rear seat, for the first 15 minutes or so the pilot
flew the plane smoothly and steadily, lulling him into overconfidence.
After fifteen minutes of smooth, level flying, the pilot said to him, "how
you feeling? getting used to it?" When Rusty responded. "I'm good," the
pilot immediately threw the plane into a series of acrobatic maneuvers --
rolling, looping, diving. After they landed, it took Rusty more than an
hour to clean up his rear seat area! Rusty refused to tell us stories about actual combat operations in the Pacific; he would only say that war was horrible and he hoped that we would never have to experience it.
Attached are two pictures of his deck jacket from the Shangri La, which we still have.