Fighter Squadron 162 (VF-162) was established on 1 September 1960 as a unit of newly formed Carrier Air Group 16 (CVG-16). However, the Hunters, equipped with F4D-1 Skyray fighters, made their first deployment with CVG-6 on board the USS Intrepid (CVA-11) in August 1961.
Upon return in February 1962, VF-162 transitioned to the F8U-1 (F-8A) Crusader. After one deployment to the Western Pacific in September 1963 on board the USS Oriskany (CVA-34), VF-162 upgraded to the F-8E version of the Crusader.
Deploying in April 1965, VF-162 flew combat air patrols, escort, and strike missions over Vietnam and Laos, losing one F-8E to an SA-2 missile; the pilot was rescued.
The Hunters headed again to the war zone in May 1966. During this deployment, the Hunters lost five F-8Es and one pilot to enemy action. One was flown by Commander Richard Bellinger, who was shot down by a North Vietnamese MiG-21. Bellinger got his revenge three months later, shooting down a MiG-21, the first downed by a Navy fighter. The fire that devastated the Oriskany two weeks later ended the deployment.