Attack Squadron 165 (VA-165) was established at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, on 1 September 1960 as part of Carrier Air Group 16. Equipped with AD-6/7 (A-1H/J) propeller-driven attack aircraft, the Boomers made two deployments to the western Pacific on board the USS Oriskany (CVA-34). In 1964, VA-165 switched to Carrier Air Wing 15 when that wing's Skyraider squadron, VA-152, went to Vietnam to train South Vietnamese crews.
The Boomers were deployed on board the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) in February 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson launched the Flaming Dart retaliatory strikes against North Vietnam. The Rolling Thunder strikes began the following month, with VA-165 flying interdiction and rescue combat air patrol sorties. The Boomers made one more Vietnam deployment in 1966 from the USS Intrepid (CVS-11) with CVW-10.