CDR Joe O’Brien is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering and was commissioned an Ensign in 1999. He reported to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., earning a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2000. Following NPS, he reported to NAS Whiting Field for primary flight training and continued flight training in VT-22 at NAS Kingsville, where he received his “Wings of Gold” and was designated a Naval Aviator in 2002.
CDR O’Brien reported to the Grim Reapers of VF-101 at NAS Oceana, Va., for initial qualification in the F-14 Tomcat. He joined his first fleet squadron, the Pukin Dogs of VF-143, in 2003, where he served as the Power Plants Branch Officer, Aircraft Division Officer and Quality Assurance Officer. He completed a transition to the FA-18E Super Hornet during a five-month detachment to VFA-122 at NAS Lemoore, Calif.
In 2006, CDR O’Brien was assigned as an instructor with the Gladiators of VFA-106, at NAS Oceana, where he served as the Fighter Phase Head and Quality Assurance Officer. Qualified to instruct all flights in the syllabus, he was a Standardization Instructor for all Air-to-Air phases, Basic Fighter Maneuvers, Low Altitude Tactical Training, Tanking and Night Vision Goggle flights.
CDR O’Brien completed a Global War on Terrorism Support Assignment to Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare, Fort Meade, Md., from 2008 to 2009, serving as the Senior Battle Captain, directing cyberspace efforts in support of global US operations. CDR O’Brien next reported to his department head tour with the Wildcats of VFA-131, flying the FA-18C Hornet, where he served as the Administrative, Safety, Maintenance and Operations Officer.
CDR O’Brien was assigned as the Information Operations (IO) Branch Chief and Lead IO Planner for US Pacific Command, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, from 2013 to 2016, leading joint and combined IO execution, planning and exercises throughout the Pacific AOR.
In 2017, CDR O’Brien reported as the Operations Officer for Carrier Air Wing FIVE, Forward Deployed to NAF Atsugi and then MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. He coordinated CVW-5 training, planning and operations throughout the SEVENTH Fleet AOR supporting tactical, operational and strategic theater objectives with Joint Forces, Allies and Partners.
CDR O’Brien has been fully qualified in the F-14 Tomcat and FA-18 Hornet and Super Hornet. He has completed seven deployments, including three combat deployments in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and has logged more than 300 combat flight hours. He has accumulated more than 2,500 total flight hours in the T-34C, T-45, F-14A/B, FA-18A-F and EA-18G, and has logged over 500 carrier-arrested landings.
CDR O’Brien’s awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medals (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal, Strike/Flight Air Medal (three awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards) and various campaign, service and unit awards.
He assumed the duties of Executive Officer of Naval Air Station Kingsville in September 2019.