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With the advent of hostilities in Southeast Asia, BON HOMME RICHARD once again became a powerful instrument of Naval air power.
Following the North Vietnamese attack upon the United States destroyers MADDOX and TURNER JOY in 1964, BON HOMME RICHARD entered her third war. About to return home after a routine deployment, she was extended in the Western Pacific for an additional 45 days to commence operations against North Vietnam.
Following a short "turn around" period in San Diego for upkeep and training, Bonnie Dick returned to the "Yankee Station" operating area off the Vietnamese coast for her second combat cruise of the Vietnam War.
Upon her return to the United States in January 1966, Bon Homme Richard entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard for an overhaul which has been authoritatively described as the largest ever undertaken by a shipyard without decommissioning the ship involved. Aship-wide air conditioning system and automatic data processing system were installed, and the landing area of her wooded flight deck was resurfaced with aluminum. Bonnie Dick was being prepared for the greatest achievements of her commissioned life.
On January 26, 1967, CVA-31 left San Diego to begin her third and most eventful combat deployment to Vietnam, in which Air Wing Twenty-One pilots struck forcefully against North Vietnam's Red River Valley and the eneny's major cities. Bon Homme Richard became the first "ace" of the Vietnam war, as her pilots destroyed 14 MIG interceptor aircraft as well as participating in a record 73 major strikes against the enemy.
After a five month leave and upkeep period in San Diego and Long Beach, Bon Homme Richard returned to Yankee Station on February 21, 1968, with Carrier Air Wing Five embarked, joining Task Force 77's troop support and interdiction campaigns in North and South Vietnam. Bonnie Dick's Seahawks and Crusaders played a major role in support of U.S. Marines at the Khe Sanh, destroying enemy bases and supply lines which threatened the outpost. At the conclusion of this fourth combat cruise, CVA-31 and CVW-5 were credited with destroying or damaging a total of 750 enemy trucks, 600 water-borne logistics craft, 93 rail and highway bridges, 31 railroad cars, and 40 river crossing and ferry areas. Not to be outdone, Bonnie Dick pilots also accounted for three more MIG aircraft to bring the "ace" carrier's total to seventeen.
On March 18, 1969, Bon Homme Richard embarked on her fifth combat cruise to Vietnamese waters, a deployment of seven and one-half months' duration. Under the command of Captain D.W. Alderton, CVA-31 and embarked Carrier Air Wing Five flew in support of Allied ground forces below the Demilitarized Zone and participated in an interdiction campaign to cut the enemy's supply lines into South Vietnam. Additionally, Bon Homme Richard joined other Seventh Fleet carriers in patrolling the Korean area as a result of the destruction a U.S. Navy EC-121 reconnaissance aircraft by North Korea in April, 1969.
Following a period of leave and upkeep in San Diego and subsequent refresher training, Bon Homme Richard left California for Southeast Asia on April 2, 1970, the first carrier to deploy six times to the Vietnam combat area.