Marine Squadron 165


The historical facts on this page reflect Marine Squadron 165's service from its activation through today. Included below are the Awards earned by the White Knights and the Commanding Officers who lead our Squadron.


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. The squadron aided the task force in the search for remains of MIA's 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.

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 become VMM-165, 11 April 2011.



Marine Squadron 165

1966 - 1967








Marine Squadron 165

Commanding Officers


Maj Oliver G. McDonald 1 Jul 1965 - 22 Sep 1965
LtCol William R. Duncan 23 Sep 1965 - 26 Feb 1966
LtCol William W. Eldridge, Jr. 27 Feb 1966 - 30 Apr 1967
LtCol John A. Reames 1 May 1967 - 6 Oct 1967
LtCol Richard E. Romaine 7 Oct 1967 - 31 Mar 1968
LtCol Elvyn E. Hagedorn 1 Apr 1968 - 22 Aug 1968
LtCol George L. Patrick, Jr. Aug 1968 - 25 Feb 1969
LtCol Thomas E. Raines 26 Feb 1969 - 23 Nov 1969
LtCol David H. Mitchell 24 Nov 1969 - 15 Aug 1970
LtCol Herbert M. Herther 16 Aug 1970 - 15 Jun 1971
Maj Donnie M. Griffay 16 Jun 1971 - 21 Jul 1971
LtCol Paul L. Moreau 22 Jul 1971 - 16 Jun 1972
LtCol Charles H. F. Egger 16 Jun 1972 - 1 May 1973
LtCol Arthur B. Colbert 2 May 1973 - 18 Mar 1974
Maj Joseph L. James 19 Mar 1974 - 25 Jul 1974
LtCol James P. Kizer 26 Jul 1974 - 19 Jul 1975
LtCol James A. McGinn 19 Jul 1975 - 20 Jul 1976
LtCol Ross S. Plasterer 21 Jul 1976 - 13 Jun 1977
Maj Forest E. Walker 14 Jun 1977 - 3 Aug 1977
LtCol Robert G. Mitchell 4 Aug 1977 - 27 Nov 1977
LtCol Richard P. Bland 28 Nov 1977 - 2 Jul 1980
LtCol Gary E. Thiry 3 Jul 1980 - 16 Dec 1981
LtCol Marion F. Stone 17 Dec 1981 - 13 Oct 1982
LtCol Alfred J. Ponnwitz 14 Oct 1982 - 10 Feb 1984
LtCol Marvin S. Blair 11 Feb 1984 - 8 Feb 1985
LtCol Thomas A. Braaten 9 Feb 1985 - 9 May 1986
LtCol Bernard F. Luby 10 May 1986 - 14 Apr 1989
LtCol Gene S. Mead 15 Apr 1989 - 16 Mar 1990
LtCol Marvin D. Hall 17 Mar 1990 - 26 Nov 1991
LtCol Phillip R. Westcott III 27 Nov 1991 - 7 May 1993
LtCol Gary G. Gisolo 8 May 1993 - 2 Nov 1994
LtCol Lawrence G. Walker 3 Nov 1994 - 14 May 1996
LtCol Richard M. Rasmussen 15 May 1996 - 16 Apr 1998
LtCol Guy M. Close 17 Apr 1998 - 21 Jan 2000
LtCol Robert M. Zeisler 22 Jan 2000 - 13 Jul 2001
LtCol Gregg A. Sturdevant 14 Jul 2001 - 19 May 2003
LtCol Jon Doering 19 May 2003 - 29 Oct 2004
LtCol Eric Steidl 29 Oct 2004 - 13 Jan 2006
LtCol Chris Papaj 13 Jan 2006 - 15 Jun 2007
LtCol Preston W. Jones 15 Jun 2007 - 16 Jan 2009
LtCol Todd J. Oneto 16 Jan 2009 - 4 Feb 2011
LtCol Jan M. January 4 Feb 2011 - 11 Apr 2011

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29 Oct 2015