US Marine Corps, June 30, 2005 - MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. — By Cpl. Skye Jones - More than 40 years ago, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 was activated at Marine Corps Air Station Santa Ana, Calif., July 1, 1965.
The "White Knights," who moved to MCAS Miramar in 1998, just got back from their recent deployment June 5 with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (special operations capable), where they supported the tsunami relief in Asia and provided operational support in Iraq.
"We headed out of Guam last December, where the MEU spent about $50,000 at a hardware store to restore the area," said Maj. Todd Oneto, executive officer, HMM-165, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. "When we got there, we rendered aid by delivering these supplies and food to Indonesia and Sri Lanka."
The Knights then headed to Iraq the last month of their deployment, where they sustained training in Kuwait, conducting troop movements, directive action missions, where the helicopters would land on top of insurgent compounds and company lifts.
"It feels great to be part of history," said Staff Sgt. James E. Mason, operations chief, HMM-165. "I'm very proud of what the Marines have done and all of the hard work and determination that they put toward meeting mission accomplishment."
During the duration of the deployment, the Knights flew more than 6,000 hours, transported more than 9,000 passengers and carried more than 1 million pounds of cargo during 4,000 sorties while they were attached to the MEU.
"A lot of Marines extended to go on this deployment," said Master Sgt. John Walrath, avionics chief, HMM-165. "That says a lot about the Marines in our squadron. They could have gotten out, but they opted to deploy. We have a lot of new Marines coming in, but they're very capable of carrying on the squadron's legacy."
Walrath is far from new to the squadron. He deployed to Hawaii with HMM-165 more than 17 years ago, where he worked as an avionics technician from 1981 to 1983.
"I'm very fortunate to come back and be a part of (HMM)-165," he said. "They are a very tight unit all around, and during the last five years that I've been back with the squadron, we've done numerous successful missions both operationally and supporting roles back at Miramar
The White Knights have traveled the world executing various missions in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Saigon during Operation Frequent Wind, Cambodia aiding the Joint Task Force Full Accounting in finding missing personnel from the war in Vietnam and the Philippines to provide flood relief operations.
"The squadron motto is 'whatever it takes' and we'll do it," said Oneto. "Without a doubt, this is the best squadron in the Marine Corps. They will breed the future of Marine aviation."