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 1970s, 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 Operations 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. The squadron aided the task force in the search for remains of MIAs from the war in Vietnam.
HMM-165 was reassigned from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Aviation Support Element, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii to Marine Aircraft Group 16, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California on 15 May 96. HMM-165 then moved to MCAS Miramar, San Diego, CA in November of 1998.
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 deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan.
In December 2002, the White Knights deployed to the Arabian Gulf on the USS BOXER. The Squadron supported Regimental Combat Team 1 (RCT-1) as they pushed up to Baghdad. In March of 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.
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, this time 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. The squadron transitioned to the MV-22 Osprey and was re-designated the Marine Medium Tiltrotor squadron (VMM-165) on 11 April 2011.
VMM-165 sent pilots, crew chiefs, and maintainers to MCAS New River to undergo transition training in the summer of 2011. VMM-165 exceeded all milestones set forth by the Deputy Commandant for Aviation and reached Full Operational Capability (FOC) over a month ahead of schedule
In July of 2013, VMM-165 deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM 13.2. 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, the White Knights conducted assault support, battlefield illumination, VIP transport, and CASEVAC in support of the ISAF effort in Helmand Province. During their deployment, VMM-165 flew nearly 2,000 combat hours, moving over 12,000 passengers, and 500,000 pounds of cargo while completing 45,000 maintenance man-hours. In February of 2014, VMM-165 completed its mission in Afghanistan and returned home to MCAS Miramar.
Since 2015, VMM-165 has deployed multiple times to Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase, Kuwait as the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) for the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE.