USS Bon Homme Richard

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USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31)
USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31)


I have more photos than I can include in a single posting. Please click on my face to open an album of photos I took while serving on the USS Bon Homme Ricard (CVA -31). I was deployed with Helicopter Combat Support Squadron One (HELSUPPRON ONE or HC-1) out of NAS Imperial Beach, CA.

John Poltrack on flight deck
Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean in 1970

In 1968 if you were male and didn’t have a deferment, then the government had plans for you in Vietnam. I joined the Navy in 1968. This seemed like a good strategy because the Army and Marines were drafting anyone with a pulse and I figured that an ocean cruise was preferable to jungle warfare. After a delightful year in Memphis Tenn studying Avionics, I was sent south of San Diego to a base in Imperial Beach. I was attached to a helicopter squandron whose motto was “Twist and Turn, Crash and Burn”. Just outside the base perimeter was a bar called the “Whirly-Bird”. I was able to live off base near the beach and life was good. Eventually we were deployed aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA31) which was an Essex class attack carrier built in the distant past. The HC1 squadron was an interesting mix of people and occasionally I wonder what has become of them. I still have contacts with my Imperial Beach Roomate, who still travels to the Philippines for R & R (this is 39 years later), but I have no idea what happened to the rest of the crew. Imagine my suprise when recently I received an email from someone who discovered my name on a site. I decided the least I could do is upload some photos and hope that others find this posting if they search for “HC-1” or “CVA-31”. A lot has happened in those intervening 39 years and now a new generation is involved in another pointless war. I wish them all well. Click on the photo to see all the pictures. Peace.. John


9 thoughts on “USS Bon Homme Richard

  1. There are at least two people glad that John wrote the blog. I for one happy that I saw the post on the site he placed it on.He was surprised at someone from way back contacting him and I was surprised to see him listed.Though time may have separated us since our stints of service in HC1 Det31, memories of those times and others we share them with are unforgettable. I flew in aircraft John helped maintain and keep in the air. I know of at least one pilot that may not have been around without our helicopter, our crew and our maintenance.Hats off to John, those we knew, and all who wished us well during our time. Hats off and God’s Blessing to those who now serve no matter where.


  2. Nice trip down memory lane.You have done what I often have thought about doing. A few people come to mind: Dennis Burgi, Jim Bear, Shane Mullen (died in helo crash Nov 68 off San Clemente), Ernie Skeen (pictured) was in our Det 14 on The Tico in 69. Remember the “Brown House”?Jim Eades AT2 DET 14, DET 71968-71


  3. I am trying to get a hold of John that wrote this blog. My step dad was in a helicopter that William Duggan was also in My step dads name is Lewis Robertson the guys called him Robbie. He was with HC1 SAR-DET-3Any info please send to


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