Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 was activated on the first of July 1965 at Marine Corps Air Station, Santa Ana, California as part of Marine Aircraft Group 36. During August of 1965, the White Knights were reassigned to Marine Wing Service Group 37.
In September of 1966, the White Knights deployed to the Republic of Vietnam. From October 1966 to August 1969, the squadron operated from Ky Ha, Hue/Phu Bai, the USS Valley Forge, the USS TRIPOLI, Marble Mountain area near Da Nang, and from the USS TARAWA. In August of 1969, the squadron redeployed to Okinawa where it was reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 15. In December of 1969, the squadron became part of Marine Aircraft Group 36 again and it remained a part of the Group until 1977.
During the early 1970's, HMM-165 participated as part of the Special Landing Force in support of activities in the Republic of Vietnam. During July and August of 1972, the White Knights took part in Philippine flood relief operations, flying in food and supplies to local populations. In April of 1975, helicopters of HMM-165 took part in the evacuation of Saigon, Operation FREQUENT WIND. Lady Ace 09 evacuated the ambassador on the morning of 30 April 1977. In November of 1977, the White Knights packed up and moved to Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii where they were reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 24.
During September and October 1983, HMM-165 deployed to the western Pacific and Indian Oceans. HMM-165 was diverted to Beirut, Lebanon, where they conducted contingency operations from the deck of the USS TARAWA. In December 1989, the White Knights supported American interests, to include reinforcement of the American Embassy, in the Republic of the Philippines during that country's coupe attempt.
In August of 1990, the squadron was sent to Saudi Arabia to participate in Operation DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. The White Knights returned home from Saudi Arabia in March of 1991. HMM-165 was the "last squadron in the Philippine Islands" when they supported the special purpose MAGTF from July to November 1992. From September to October 1992 and again in March of 1993 a detachment was sent to Cambodia to participate in Joint Task Force Full Accounting; this time the mission was cut short when the task force base camp was attacked by mortar fire in April 1993. The squadron aided the task force in the search for remains of MIA's from the war in Vietnam.
As a result of the Base Realignment And Closure Committee's (BRAC) actions HMM-165 was reassigned from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Aviation Support Element, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, to Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California on May 15, 1996.
While assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 16, HMM-165 participated in two Combined Arms Exercises DESERT PUNCH, the largest helicopter operation since the Vietnam war; and numerous squadron deployments. HMM-165 moved to MCAS Miramar, San Diego, CA in November of 1998. In December of 1998 HMM-165 was designated the Aviation Combat Element for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
In July of 2001 HMM-165 was designated the Aviation Combat Element for the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. After the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, HMM-165 was poised to deploy on an aggressive anti-terrorism campaign and support Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan.
In December 2002, the White Knights deployed to Iraq on the USS BOXER. The Squadron supported Regimental Combat Team 1 (RCT-1) as they pushed up to Baghdad. On 1 April 2003, the Squadron supported Task Force 20 in extracting US POW Army PFC Jessica Lynch. The duration of the deployment was spent operating from Jalibah Forward Operating Base. The Squadron returned home in June and supported Combined Arms Exercises at MCAGCC 29 Palms in November.
In December 2004, the White Knights deployed with the 15th MEU (SOC) to the Pacific Ocean aboard the USS BONHOMME RICHARD. The squadron provided relief to tsunami victims during Operation UNIFIED ASSISTANCE in January 2005. HMM-165 (REIN) then participated in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from March to April of 2005, out of Al Taqaddum Airbase, FOB Falcon, and Al Asad Airbase. The squadron returned home to MCAS Miramar in June 2005.
HMM-165 Reinforced (REIN) deployed with the 15th MEU (SOC) again in September 2006, aboard the USS BOXER. The White Knights participated in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from November 2006 to April 2007, providing support to the Multi-National Forces West from Al Asad Airbase and Camp Korean Village. The squadron returned home to Miramar in May 2007.
Eleven months after returning home, HMM-165 (REIN) set sail with the 15th MEU onboard the USS PELELIU in May of 2008 for WESTPAC 08-02. The squadron participated in two bilateral training exercises: Operation EAGER MACE and Operation INFINITE MOONLIGHT while ashore in Kuwait and Jordan. The squadron's CH-53E detachment spent one month stationed at Al Asad Airbase in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
On their last deployment flying the CH-46E, HMM-165(REIN) again deployed with the 15th MEU in May 2010 aboard the USS PELELIU. During their WESTPAC 10-1 deployment the White Knights spent two and a half months in Pakistan conducting Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief (HA/DR) where they delivered 5.6 million pounds of relief supplies and transported 8,933 flood victims to safety. The HMM-165(REIN) CH-53 detachment completed the longest amphibious insert in Marine Corps history when they traveled over 625 miles to Ghazi Airbase in Northern Pakistan. Also during this deployment the squadron's UH-1 and AH-1 aircraft flew in the takedown of the pirated merchant vessel Magellan Star in the Gulf of Aden and the attached AV-8s flew missions into Afghanistan supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF).
The White Knights returned to Miramar in December 2010, and traded in their CH-46Es for the MV-22 Osprey and were subsequently re-designated Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 (VMM-165) 11 April 2011.
An MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft from squadron VMM-165 landed and refueled on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on 6 October 2012. This operation was part of an evaluation of the feasibility of the MV-22 as a potential replacement for the C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery (COD) cargo transport aircraft.
In July 2013, VMM-165 deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon arriving at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, the squadron assumed the duties of assault support for Regional Command Southwest [RC(SW)]. During their seven-month deployment to Afghanistan, the White Knights of VMM-165 conducted assault support, battlefield illumination, VIP transport, and CASEVAC in support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) effort in Helmand Province.