Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 164 was activated on 1 July 1964 at Marine Corps Air Station Santa Ana, California, as part of Marine Aircraft Group 36, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. In August 1965, the squadron transferred to marine Wing Support Group 37, Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California. The squadron received the first CH-46 "Sea Knights" assigned to West Coast duty, six months after activation.
HMM-164 deployed for a three and one-half year tour to Vietnam in 1966, arriving at Marble Mountain in March of that year as part of MAG-16, 1st MAW. The squadron introduced the CH-46 Sea Knight to Vietnam and built an enviable combat record while operating out of many different locations in the northern section of Vietnam. These areas included: Quang Tri, Dong ha, Khe Sanh, Hue City, Phu Bai and off the decks of the USS Princeton, the USS Tripoli and the USS Valley Forge. While in Vietnam, HMM-164 supported U.S. forces in all the major operations, most notably in Operation MEADE RIVER and Operation HASTINGS.
In October 1969, the squadron left Vietnam and relocated to Okinawa, Japan where it joined MAG-15. From October 1969 through April 1972, it deployed with elements of the U.S. Seventh Fleet as part of a special landing force. HMM-164 supported combat and Search and Rescue operations off the coast of Vietnam until April 1972 when it deployed aboard the USS Okinawa. While aboard the Okinawa HMM-164 continued to provide Joint Service combat support in Operations SONG THAN and LAM SONG until returning to MCAS Futenma Okinawa in 1973.
After the withdraw of American forces from Vietnam and the squadron's subsequent transfer to MAG-39, HMM-164 participated in numerous peacetime operations aboard naval shipping traveling to Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, and Japan as well as many exercises in Okinawa. Additionally, the squadron provided helicopter support for units of the Third Marine Division and units of the Army, Navy, and Air Force on Okinawa. In April 1975, detachments from HMM-164 participated in Operation EAGLE PULL, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Operation FREQUENT WIND, the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy, Saigon, Vietnam.
From August 1975 until August 1978, HMM-164 was stationed at MCAS Futenma Okinawa. During this time, the squadron conducted countless missions in support of 3D MAF Forces throughout the western pacific to include deployments to the Republic of the Philippines, Korea, and Atsugi, Japan.
With the advent of the Unit Deployment Program, on 1 September 1978, twelve years after initial deployment to West Pac, HMM-164 returned home to Santa Ana, California. In September 1979, the Squadron rejoined MAG-36 at Futenma Okinawa for a six-month tour, returning to Tustin, California, on 24 February. On 1 November 1980, HMM-164 became the first unit on the West Coast to receive the "E" model CH-46. By March 1981, the Squadron had received its full complement of "Echos" and in September 1981 again deployed to 1st MAW, Okinawa, for six months. While in the western pacific it deployed numerous times to Japan and to the Republic of Korea.
HMM-164 returned to Tustin in March 1982. The squadron participated in many exercises and went on training deployments to the deserts and mountains in the continental U.S. before deploying to the western pacific again in September 1983. On 13 February 1984, HMM-164 returned to Tustin and resumed operations with the Third MAW.
In February 1984, MAU sourcing was transferred from Hawaii to Third MAW, and the Squadron deployed on its first WESTPAC cruise in August 1985. Again, in January 1988, the Squadron sailed for WESTPAC, returning in July after participating in Exercise Team Spirit, South Korea. During the summer of 1989, the squadron simultaneously supported oil spill cleanup efforts in Valdez, Alaska and an Air Contingency Force at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.
June 1990, HMM-164 deployed to the western pacific with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and provided support relief efforts following the July earthquake that devastated the Philippines. August 1990 the squadron proceeded to Southwest Asia and participated in maritime interdiction operations during Operation DESERT SHIELD. HMM-164 then provided combat support during Operation DESERT STORM before returning to Tustin in April 1991.
The squadron deployed in October 1992 with the 15th marine Expeditionary Unit. At the close of 1992 HMM-164 would receive the CNO's Aviation Safety Award for diligence and attention to detail. The Squadron provided essential support to Joint Task Force (Somalia) during Operation RESTORE HOPE from December 1992 until February 1993. HMM-164 returned to MCAS, Tustin April 1993.
August 1993 found the Squadron providing support for units training at the Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport and provided a mission capabilities demonstration for the Secretary of the Navy. In august 1993, the Marine Corps Aviation Association chose HMM-164 as the Medium Helicopter Squadron of the year.
In 1993, the Squadron would also provide direct support for the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Mundy, and receive its second consecutive CNO Aviation Safety Award.
January 1994, the Squadron supported aircraft capabilities demonstrations during the celebrations and remembrance of the 1st Marine Division's anniversary. In addition, HMM-164 provided support for MOUNT demonstrations for International VIP's visiting Camp Pendleton, California. October and November 1994 HMM-164 gave aviation support for the 31st MEU before their deployment.
June 1995, HMM-164 deployed as the Aviation Combat Element with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit providing tactical and logistical support in Jordan during Exercise INFINITE MOONLIGHT, which was the largest Joint U.S. contingent to train in Jordan to date. It also provided support for the United States Central Command in Operation Vigilant Sentinel in Kuwait as well as Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates before returning and relocating to MCAS El Toro, California in December 1995.
In February 1996, HMM-164 was called upon to support the President of the United States as he visited the flood-ravaged areas around Portland, Oregon. In April, HMM-164 earned its third CNO's Aviation Safety Award: a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the Knightriders.
On 28 August 1997, HMM-164 (REIN) deployed again as the Air Combat Element for the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). The squadron participated in Exercise EAGER MACE 98 in Kuwait, in Exercise NEON FALCON, which was the first bilateral training venture between the Bahraini armed Forces and the United States, and Operation SILENT ASSURANCE in Qatar.
During the month of December 1997 and January 1998, the squadron's AV-8Bs and KC-130s flew combat sorties in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over southern Iraq. HMM-164 (REIN) returned to MCAS El Toro on 26 February 1998, completing its final WESTPAC before re-designation as a Fleet Replacement Squadron.
On 8 January 1999, HMM-164 relocated to MCAS Camp Pendleton, California as part of the BRAC move and was attached to MAG-39 effective 11 January. In February 1999, the Squadron was re-designed HMM (T)-164 and was tasked to become the Marine Corps' Fleet Replacement Squadron for the CH-46E.
During March 1999, the squadron deployed two aircraft to Moffett Federal Airfield to support Operation URBAN WARRIOR and accept its first two student pilots. In May, the Marine Enlisted Aircrew Training Department accepted its first class of new enlisted aircrew.
On 1 June 1999, the squadron took over the role as Model Manager and Fleet Project Team Manager for the CH-46E. It also designated its first two student pilots as Helicopter Second Pilot during June. The Knightriders continue to train and teach their new pilots and aircrew, especially during monthly detachments for the initial night vision goggle training. The Knightriders will continue to set the standard for Marine Corps CH-46E aviation and look forward to leading the way for the rest of the fleet.
Since the beginning of the new millennium, HMM(T)-164 has trained over 360 new pilots and 460 crew chiefs while winning the 2000 CDR Theodore Ellyson Aviation Production Excellence Award for exceeding training goals.