Anthony O'Brien is a native of Brockton, Mass. & son of Deacon Don O'Brien. Don was the first Deacon at St. Edward Church (now St. Edith). Like his Dad, Tony first served in the Marine Corps.
With 14 siblings (mostly from 2 stepFamilies) & a family of nurses & veterans, Tony's greatest joy is serving as Dad to Anthony Jr (11) & James Donald (9) with max gratitude for his family's generations of dedication to faith, family, education, community & country.
Tony O'Brien is a former Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) who served at SEAL Team FIVE & SDV Team ONE. A veteran of seven overseas deployments to 25 countries, he led platoons & task units for crisis response throughout Asia, the Middle East & Europe and trained in 30 states throughout the US.
He worked with US Secret Service details for US Presidents (Pres. Bush Sr, Pres. Clinton, Pres. Bush Jr). LCDR O'Brien's awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, NATO Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, French Fourragere decoration, and commendations from the Secretary of Defense & President Bush Jr.
He serves as a Deputy Sheriff with the Plymouth County Sheriff Dept.
Contact: cell-text (508) 868-2547 AnthonyThomasOBrien@yahoo.com
PO Box 384 Brockton MA 02303 www.AnthonyOBrien.com
At Cardinal Spellman High School, he was selected to the National Honor Society for academics. He became a runner and member of cross-country & track teams who was selected co-captain of both teams that participated in state tournaments.
In his senior year of high school, he finished 3 marathons (26.2 miles) including 2nd place at the New England Junior AAU Marathon Championship in Holyoke, Mass.
Also active in the Drama Club, he was inducted in Spellman's Robert McEwan Drama Hall of Fame in 2011 for participation in and support of theater & performing arts programs.
Drama Director Mr. McEwan & XC-track Coach Nick Siciliano were two of his closest teachers & mentors.
His athletic career included finishing 15 marathons (26.2 mi), 3 Half-IRONMAN triathlons & the IRONMAN triathlon world championship in Hawaii (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles).
After serving a tour in the Marine Corps Infantry & Recon, the Secretary of the Navy selected him to transfer to the Navy & try-out for the SEALs at their basic training course, the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course or "BUD/S." He graduated with class 156.
A motto for his life may be "Better late than never" due to several challenging highlights at any age that he hopes may inspire others incl: attended BUD/S at max allowed age of 28, is one of the oldest graduates of Army Ranger School ever (age 41), became a Dad at age 51 & 53, and graduated police academy at age 56.
After his faith in God, and thanks to God, his favorite blessing is being a Dad, with of course top credit & max thanks to their children's Mom Staci who named Anthony Jr. (AJ) after his Dad & "James Donald" (little JD) after the boys' grandfathers.
He is blessed to have survived serious injuries from accidents parachuting, diving, skiing & motorcycling and from decades & hundreds of miles and hills running, hiking & swimming carrying equipment & under hazardous conditions while leading highly-skilled units in training & operations worldwide. His competitive athletic career has transitioned to the joy of very light exercise & coaching others.
He uses his weight management program that he mostly learned in the military & has studied since then. It helped him lose 45 lbs in 4 months & he has maintained 175 lb for 15 years focusing on better eating habits and very light exercise to be part of fighting the obesity epidemic causing diseases & death and help more clients-teammates get more healthy & live leaner longer for their families & themselves.
One of many inspiring principles from his faith & service is "we are never out of the fight." We all stumble & fall, but how long do we stay down? Who gets up? Of course, one doesn't have to be a Marine, SEAL or Christian to be inspired to overcome obstacles. Thankfully, most people do overcome.
His Dad Don served in the Marine Corps in Korea. Don's 3 brothers also served in the military.
Don met Tony's Mom Marigold while Don was a student at UMass & she was a student at Bay Path College. Don was hired as a manager at the Howard Johnson plant in Brockton.
Tony's parents had 4 children: Anthony, Josephine, Matthew & John. They named him after Saint Anthony (Patron of the lost) & Apostle (doubting) Thomas. Josephine was named after Don's mother-their Grandmother. Matty was named after Apostle Matthew. John was named after their Uncle John, a WWII veteran & husband of their beloved Aunt Doris.
When Tony was age 5, a fire at their home resulted in the death of their heroic Mom Marigold age 28 & Tony's brother 'little John' age 2. She ran in & out of the burning home several times to get each child out.
A few years later, Don married Lorraine Sabina of Brockton who was also a young widow - also with 3 children - Ed, Laurianne & Mark Sabina. Ed was named after their Father.
The unique merger of the two families with 3 children each was often referred to as "The Brady Bunch" after the popular TV show which had a similar storyline.
Don & Lorraine had a "love boy" son Donny (who Tony affectionately calls "partner" due to golf tournaments they played together as teammates & won awards at).
They were active at St. Mary's Church & St. Edward Church and attended Brockton schools.
His first stepMom Lorraine & Tony share the same birthday.
Tony attended Massasoit Community College in Brockton and graduated from Stonehill College in Easton MA and Command & Staff College in Quantico VA.
His Dad Don's career was highlighted by becoming one on the most respected & sought-after experts on food plant operations and food safety procedures & inspections in the eastern US, plus his longtime Deacon ministry highlighted by Don & Lorraine's popular Pre-Cana program preparing couples for marriage.
After Lorraine's extended battle with cancer, including Don taking a leave of absence from work to serve as her caregiver for a year, their beloved Lorraine passed away at age 61.
A few years later, his Dad Don married Andrea, also a widow with 7 children - the second time Don was a widower & married a widow with the same number of children that he had.
Don & Andrea have 14 children, 32 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren - holidays are fun.
His Dad Don & his 4 siblings all lived to the age of 80.
Tony's sister Josephine introduced him to her best-friend Staci. Their children Anthony & James are very close to their four grandparents and enjoy arts & crafts, music & performing arts, running, soccer, skiing, baseball & hockey..
Detailed military biography
Tony's inspiration to serve our country started with "years of patriotic stories & admiring pride of service from his Dad, Uncle Dick & Uncle Chuck who were Marines." His Uncle Dick was a Vietnam veteran & Marine Corps colonel. His Uncle David USN was the 48th Commanding Officer of the USS Constitution that Tony affectionately calls "USS-1." Don's third brother John served in the Air Force.
Tony also responded to a call to service from President Reagan following the Iran embassy hostage crisis. His family legacy makes him most proud of his military service.
After joining the Marines, he was selected for appointment to Lieutenant in the Marines by President Reagan. Then he was selected to be an Infantry platoon commander assigned to First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment (1-5), First Marine Division at Camp Pendleton CA, under battalion commander Colonel Peter Vacca, a Vietnam Silver Star recipient. O'Brien led his platoon on an overseas deployment throughout Asia including Japan, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand & China.
His battalion executive officer Major Wallace Gregson & operations officer Capt. Richard Natonski would both rise to the rank of General. LT O'Brien was blessed with outstanding troops, leaders & mentors throughout his military service. Infantry units are the front-line combat personnel closest to enemy engagement during conventional military operations which are usually large-scale operations.
As the platoon commander, he was responsible for his unit's combat readiness, served as the unit's primary instructor for weapons & tactics, coordinated their admin, intel, training, ops, logistics, supply, transportation, and communications functions, and was the tactical leader for combat operations.
A common observation among career combat-arms officers is "platoon commander is the most fun & rewarding job in the US military" & in their entire careers.
Deployments are the rotation of units to temporary assignments overseas to maintain US national security worldwide, train with foreign military units, and remain vigilant there to respond to crisis situations as assigned by higher authority. The Dept. of Defense national management of the deployment system maintains US military presence worldwide to assist allies & serve US national security interests.
One of the Corps' most decorated units, First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment (1/5), nicknamed "Geronimo" after the famous warrior, has a century-old reputation as a "Go-to" unit selected for difficult missions that participated in some of the most famous battles ever: Battles of Belleau Wood (WWI), Okinawa (WWII), Chosin Reservoir (Korea), Hue (Vietnam), Desert Storm & Iraqi Freedom.
The Marines' nickname "Devil dogs" was given by the French in appreciation for the Marines' never-say-die fighting spirit that was critical to victory during the infamous Battle of Belleau Wood.
For their courage at Belleau Wood, the Fifth Marine Regiment was awarded the French Fourragere decoration (shoulder cord) which the unit still wears today.
Fifth Marines is considered the most decorated regiment in Marine Corps history.
LT O'Brien also completed USMC Mountain Leader Course at Bridgeport CA in the Sierra Nevada mountains conducting challenging training to become an instructor in military rock climbing and skiing.
After his tour in the Infantry, O'Brien was hoping to serve in a unit more focused on smaller & more independent special operations. He was selected for & completed a rigorous screening process for "Recon" and was selected as a recon Platoon Commander at First Reconnaissance Battalion under battalion commanders Colonel Wheeler Baker then Colonel Digger O'Dell. (Joining Recon was significant since his Uncle Dick served in Recon in Vietnam - more on Colonel Dick here soon.)
Colonel Digger O'Dell was inducted in the USSOCOM Commando Hall of Honor. Recon was a division-level combat asset performing reconnaissance providing intelligence offices with tactical information. Recon was the first Marine Corps unit to be informally considered "special operations" before the Marines joined SOCOM in 2006 to fully integrate in US Special Operations and established the Raiders in 2015. First Recon Bn was featured in the TV miniseries "Generation Kill."
O'Brien's Recon platoon conducted special weapons and tactics training with one of America's most highly-regarded law enforcement units, Los Angeles Police SWAT.
In 1985, he led his platoon as the first Recon platoon to make an operational overseas deployment since Vietnam and deployed with Battalion Landing Team 3/1 (BLT) throughout Asia incl Japan, Korea, Philippines, Thailand & Guam.
First Force Recon Company was disestablished after Vietnam then reestablished in 1986.
LT O'Brien worked for BLT battalion commander Colonel Bob Tilley, a Vietnam Silver Star recipient, and trained in Japan with a Navy SEAL unit led by LTs Joe Kernan & Tom Brown and Chief Pat Parks. This was his first knowledge of & experience with SEALs. Kernan & Brown rose to the rank of Admiral. For his tour in the Infantry & Recon, O'Brien was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal from Colonel O'Dell & General Hank Stackpole.
At Recon, he attended Navy Diver School and Navy Diver Ops Supervisor Course (taught by SEALs) at San Diego CA and led several diving ops from several patrol boats, ships & submarines.
He attended Army Airborne (parachutist) School and Army Jumpmaster School at Ft. Benning GA and led many parachute ops from fixed wing aircrafts & helicopters from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines. In the Marines, he was authorized to wear the Navy Diver insignia, Army and Navy parachutist "jump wings" badges, and the French Fourragere decoration.
In 1986, he and members of his Recon platoon were selected to be "extras" in Clint Eastwood's Marine Corps movie "Heartbreak Ridge" for scenes filmed at Camp Pendleton and can be seen in several scenes as Marines in the units with Mr. Eastwood. (He would say please call me Clint, Marines responded yes sir Mr. Eastwood.)
During training in Quantico VA, O'Brien played a season for the Marine Corps Quantico rugby team. In a highly competitive process, hIs officer's commission was meritoriously augmented from reserve to regular officer which was required for his promotion to Captain and to continue his military career.
On promotion to Captain in the Marines, he was selected to serve at Bootcamp Parris Island SC as a Series Commander, Battalion Adjutant then Battalion Executive Officer supervising & leading Drill Instructors training thousands of recruits to graduate from Marine Corps Bootcamp & become Marines.
As a Battalion Adjutant (2RTB) at Parris Island, he carried his Uncle Dick's 1952 USMC sword while leading many ceremonies including Bootcamp graduation ceremonies. (Don't mess up that ceremony, "Moms of America" are filming it.) A top inspiration for Tony joining the Marines, Uncle Dick was a Marine Colonel & Vietnam veteran who also served in Recon and was a decorated Vietnamese linguist interrogating prisoners in combat, later was an infantry battalion commander (1st Bn, 8th Marines), and then national commandant of the Marine Corps League (MCL), the first MCL national commandant while serving on active duty since the legendary General John A. Lejeune founded the MCL in 1923.
While stationed in South Carolina, Tony earned his FAA private pilot license.
For his successful tour in the Marines, Capt. O'Brien was awarded his second Navy Achievement Medal from Colonel Jay Sollis & the Commanding General and the Meritorious Unit Commendation from the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Tony's Drill Instructors presented hm with a Marine Corps NCO sword (enlisted non-commissioned officer) which he says was one of his greatest honors & gifts.
While at Parris Island, and inspired by his previous training with SEALs and desire to serve in units more focused on special operations, he was selected for a rare inter-service transfer to the Navy, appointment to Lieutenant by US Secretary of the Navy James Webb, and an opportunity to try-out for the SEALs at their maximum allowed age of 28. (Average age of BUD/S students is 20.)
O'Brien is especially grateful to CAPT Larry Bailey, then Commanding Officer of BUD/S, who supported his application to transfer to the Navy & attend BUD/S.
Secretary Webb is a distinguished USMC veteran, former US Senator, Vietnam vet recipient of Navy Cross & Silver Star Medals, and best-selling author of military books.
BUD/S is the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training course considered one of the most difficult military training programs in the world & the foundation of the SEAL's legacy as a highly successful special operations military unit. A BUD/S class starts with an average of 100 students and the graduation average in each class is 20%. Tony often looks back at his experience at BUD/S & how a "do-or-die attitude" was required to start & complete some training events (as well as a supreme trust in training staff, classmates, and of course faith in God). Once one achieves that mindset then it can change how one approaches so many things in life for their entire life.
Navy SEAL units are specialized combat units tasked by higher authority usually for crisis response, search & rescue, and disaster relief operations usually under highly challenging & hazardous conditions. SEAL Teams were founded in 1962 by President Kennedy, who heroically commanded specialized small boat operations including frogmen in WWII.
The SEALs were formed in 1962 from their predecessors the UDT, Underwater Demolition Teams, who were founded in 1942 during WWII as an emergency response for the great need for more clandestine intel, before amphibious landings in the Pacific campaign, about surf, beach & enemy info. UDT conducted critical specialized missions during WWII, the Korean War & the Vietnam War before UDT transitioned to SEAL Teams in the 1980s.
The nickname for UDT was "frogmen" and, out of utmost respect for their UDT predecessors, today SEALs still call each other "frogman."
Tony's family Navy legacy includes Uncle David was the 48th Commanding Officer of the USS Constitution, cousin Tom was a Top Gun pilot who worked as an advisor on the movie "Top Gun," and cousin Mike served in the nuclear Navy. Tony's Dad Don served in the Marine Corps in aviation ordnance in Korea. Tony's brother Dave served in the Marines as a Sergeant & aircraft technician.
Still commissioned in the active duty Navy today, USS Constitution "Old Ironsides" is the oldest commissioned warship in the world & "America's Ship of State" & one of the most popular sites for visitors to Boston daily.
LT O'Brien was selected for & attended BUD/S at the maximum age of 28. In class 155, due to being the senior ranking student as a Lieutenant, he was the class leader throughout training including completing Hell Week on his first try. During marksmanship training, he was recognized as the top shooter in his class. Then he failed a rigorous evaluated pool training exercise when he passed out underwater, was revived poolside, and was dropped from class 155 & rolled back to class 156.
He graduated with class 156 at age 29, one of the oldest graduates since BUD/S started in 1942. O'Brien credits the success that he & his classmates had at BUD/S to "his running-endurance training since high school, his unusual professional preparation (in the Marines), the incredible motivating leadership of BUD/S instructors & the relentless selfless teamwork of his classmates."
He was assigned to SEAL Team FIVE as a Platoon Commander and his platoon conducted tactical training with several local & federal law enforcement agencies in several states across the US.
A highlight of their pre-deployment training was during a major evaluated exercise (ORE) when, during a night tactical at-sea parachuting insertion ("water jump") in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a major accident involving unit equipment accident required the mission to be aborted.
During the same water jump, another mishap was avoided (that was not part of the major equipment accident) in extreme high seas & weather, when, due to a dry-suit malfunction, O'Brien had to be rescued from a near-drowning situation by his platoon-mate & "Swim Buddy" Navy SEAL Curt "Beast" Campbell.
Due to the aborted mission, the exercise was rescheduled and was a success for their platoon. Concurrently, while leading his first SEAL platoon through pre-deployment training, LT O'Brien was participating in his advance training to earn his full SEAL qualification.
Then he was awarded & is authorized to wear the SEAL "trident" insignia.
Former Navy SEAL Curt Campbell is a former Director of Maritime Security for SSA Marine in Long Beach CA, one of the largest & busiest seaports in the world. Curt is also lead vocalist & harmonica-player for the Kill House Blues Band & Eclectic Beast Band with 8 albums to his credit, latest album is "Off the Grid."
LT O'Brien led an overseas deployment to NSWU-1 highlighted by his platoon's support for US Embassy security against terrorist threats in the Philippines.
During winter training in Korea on steep mountains and in a harsh snow storm, his unit conducted a successful hazardous no-notice, high-altitude, life-saving medevac of a pregnant Korean civilian with severe medical complications which was the subject of an international news story.
On the same deployment, during parachute training in a remote area of the Philippines, O'Brien landed on rocks at a high rate of speed receiving serious injuries including broken ribs & a punctured lung. He is supremely grateful to platoon-mates who expedited his medevac & recovery.
On the same jump, a platoon-mate broke his leg and also required medevac & recovered well.
O'Brien's injuries required suspension of his Navy diver qualification. However, he was allowed to complete the deployment with his platoon.
After that deployment, he recovered & was reevaluated as qualified for full-duty status as a diver.
Then LT O'Brien was elevated to task force SEAL Ops officer in support of a SEAL Team THREE Task Unit working for Task Force Commander Admiral Stephen Clarey during the Persian Gulf War (Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Provide Comfort) defeat of the Iraqi invasion in Kuwait.
A highlight of that deployment was his task unit processed 1,500 prisoners of war (POW) in 2 days. He also worked with SEAL Team EIGHT, Admiral Bill McRaven and Captain Pete Toennies (his first CO at SEAL Team FIVE). His unit was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Southwest Asia Medal & Kuwait Liberation Medals.
Their Amphibious Task Force (19 total ships) was the largest naval deployment and operation since the Vietnam War. With an unprecedented multinational coalition of 38 countries led by President Bush Sr., the Gulf War also resulted in a historically low number of KIA casualties for a large-scale operation (500,000 American troops participated).
On their way home, a massive historic cyclone decimated the Bangladesh coastline killing 40,000 people and thousands of livestock & animals in a few hours which left injured & dead bodies covering the entire area, basic infrastructure services destroyed, and 5 million people homeless. His task force was diverted to Bangladesh for Operation Sea Angel to lead America's initial response to the deadliest cyclone ever (category 5). His task unit's efforts as the first international responders on the ground establishing the initial command post and worldwide communications, and providing emergency first aid, food & water to survivors were credited with saving thousands of lives and was the subject of international news stories. Task Force Sea Angel, commanded by O'Brien's former boss General Stackpole, was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal & included a coalition joined by Japan, Pakistan, England, China, India & France.
While assigned to SEAL Team FIVE, LT O'Brien received the Navy Commendation Medal & Navy Unit Commendation.
Then he was assigned by Commodore Ray Smith to SDV Team ONE at Pearl Harbor HI as a Platoon Commander (DDS), led overseas deployments to NSWU-1 in Guam, and received his second Navy Unit Commendation & a rare Battle "E" award (Battle Excellence) from the Secretary of the Navy for a shipboard detachment.
At Pearl Harbor at the famous national monument & gravesite USS Arizona, LT O'Brien & teammates assisted the ceremonial dive team during funeral & burial at-sea services for survivors of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. During the attack, 1,177 Sailors were killed onboard the USS Arizona which was sunk where it was moored. The KIA Sailors remain interned onboard the ship as the Arizona is designated a national monument & national burial-gravesite. Upon request, Pearl Harbor survivors may return to Pearl Harbor and may be buried at sea at the USS Arizona with their fellow veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack. One of his most solemn duties, usually the burial is part of a ceremony including the dive team swimming remains to the bottom 60 feet below.
O'Brien's shipboard deployments included onboard USS Peleliu (LHA-5), USS Tarawa (LHA-1), USS Okinawa (LPH-3), USS Blueback (SS-581), USS Tunny (SSN-682), and USS Bates (SSN-680).
He says "Our many awards & promotions during our highly challenging tours at SEAL Team FIVE and SDV Team ONE were in greatest part due to the incredible work of my teammates, I was blessed that they allowed me to stand on their shoulders, and they have my utmost admiration and appreciation forever."
Due to their successes at SEAL Team FIVE & SDV Team ONE, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and selected to be the Chief of Maritime Counter-terrorism Ops for (Cmdr-in-Chief-Pacific USCINCPAC) Admiral Charles Larson at US Pacific Command (PACOM) coordinating training and operations for Army, Navy & Air Force Special Operations units, as well as several federal intel & law enforcement agencies, during deployments throughout Asia and the Middle East. In this assignment, he also worked with Secret Service details protecting Presidents Bush Sr. & Clinton.
In 1993, he also completed the IROMNAN Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii (swim 2.4 mi, bike 112 mi, run 26.2 mi).
In 1995, he became one of the few SEALs to ever attend the Army Freefall/HALO School (freefall/skydive parachuting) at Ft. Bragg NC & Yuma AZ. (Upon selection to attend Army HALO School & due to his experience as a civilian skydiver & Army-certified static-line jumpmaster, he was selected for a rare opportunity to formally "challenge" the HALO course in a significantly shortened format for an accelerated graduation.) He is authorized to wear the military HALO Freefall parachute badge. He is most grateful to his bosses, Army Colonel Greg Flick & Colonel Jim Kingsley USAF who allowed that opportunity.
He completed Command & Staff College graduate studies in National Security & Strategic Planning. He is authorized to wear the USCINCPAC Joint service badge & was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal from ADM Larson.
While stationed in Hawaii, one of his favorite off-duty activities was skydiving on the north shore of Oahu where he had hundreds of jumps and the great joy & friendships that come with that activity. During a routine skydive with O'Brien, one of his Marine Corps friends was killed due to an equipment malfunction. The accident was even more surprising since his friend was a military parachute rigger as a job specialty & had recently graduated from the Army Freefall/HALO Parachuting training course at Ft. Bragg NC. The accident was the subject of a national news story.
He also was in charge of an operations support center coordinating training and worldwide deployments for reserve units which prepared him for his follow-on assignment that included coordinating activities of SEAL reserves units throughout the eastern US at Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Group TWO in Norfolk VA.
Another most solemn duty was serving as a Casualty Calls officer who, immediately following a Sailor's death anywhere in the world, received short-notice assignements to provide the first in-person notification of that Sailor's death to the Sailor's family-NOK (next of kin) in O'Brien's region.
In 1997, he also participated in a nation-wide multi-agency law enforcement investigation Operation Long Fuse that resulted in the arrests & prosecutions of several military personnel involved in the theft of sensitive military equipment throughout the US.
In 1998, he was selected as the National Junior Officer of the Year by the Association of the US Navy (AUSN)
He was then elevated to serve as Group Training Officer at NSW Group TWO coordinating worldwide training for active and reserve SEAL Teams plus kserved as director for the SEAL advanced training course, SEAL Sniper course & SEAL Breacher course. He also helped develop new & improved curriculums for training programs incl. the SEAL advanced training course.
While assigned to Group TWO, and at the age of 41, he volunteered to attend Army Ranger School (class 11-00) at Ft. Benning GA. Ranger School is considered one of the best small unit infantry combat leadership courses in the world, and one of the most difficult to complete.
Army Rangers are famous for many combat successes most notably during WWII on D-Day climbing the cliffs at Normandy to defeat heavily-defended, critical enemy positions aimed at stopping the American beach landings.
Ranger school primarily trains infantry small unit leaders to be top infantry tactics instructors & better leaders back at their infantry units. (Note: Although all Rangers must graduate Ranger School, the very large majority of Ranger School graduates do not serve as Rangers in Ranger battalions.)
O'Brien says "Ever since my first assignment in the military leading an infantry platoon in the Marine Corps, I was a 'grunt' at heart (infantryman). Ranger School was considered the best & toughest infantry training so I always wanted to try it. I am most thankful to Commodores Bob Schoultz & Karl Heinz for allowing my attendance."
(Note: Many Army schools allow students from other branches of the military besides the Army. Regarding age, the average age for Ranger students is 22 & almost no students start or complete
Ranger School in their 40's - very few do so in their 30's.) His Ranger class started with 240 students and graduated 90.
He was the only member of the Navy in his class (3 were Marines, 3 were Air Force.)
Despite some injuries especially to his back and feet, he completed training on his first try and is one of the oldest graduates of Ranger School since its founding in 1950.
Ranger School graduates are awarded, and authorized to wear, the coveted Ranger tab - less than 1% of the US Army are graduates of Ranger School.
He was also awarded the Ranger School Leadership Honorman Award from General John LeMoyne, the brother of SEAL Admiral Irve LeMoyne. This Honorman Award was sponsored by the Association of the US Army (AUSA) and nicknamed the "Go-to guy" Award for the student who instructors & classmates reached out to more often to help solve problems among the students.
In 1999, he also served as the SEAL Ops Officer for the JSOC Y2K Task Force - a once-in-a-lifetime mission - for Army, Navy & Air Force SpecOps conducting critical, evaluated dynamic tactical exercises at Ft. Bragg NC which resulted in an unexpected exceptionally high level of success.
He was awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal from SEAL Admiral Eric Olson, a Somalia Silver Star recipient, and General Bryan Brown, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Many of the unusual exercises techniques & significantly improved evaluation methods were adopted by other SpecOps units & conventional military units throughout the Dept. of Defense.
Then O'Brien was selected as detachment commander of a SEAL Team TWO Detachment/task unit deployed overseas in support of the Balkans peacekeeping mission in Operation Joint Guardian. They worked closely with Army Special Forces units. His unit also worked with the Secret Service detail protecting President Bush Jr. during his visit to Kosovo. He was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal & NATO Medal by General Vincent Brooks, commander of Task Force Falcon who later also was the highly-recognized media spokesperson for US operations during the Iraq invasion in 2003. Gen. Brooks later served as Commander of US Forces Korea. He and Tony have the same birthday.
LCDR O'Brien was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by Commodore Karl Heinz & the Chief of Naval Operations and a U.S. Presidential Commendation from President G.W. Bush.
LCDR O'Brien is one of the few personnel in all of the US military, including the Army, to graduate from the following four Army courses: Army Airborne School, Army Jumpmaster School, Army Ranger School, and Army Freefall/HALO School. (Please note: O'Brien never served as a member of the Army. These Army schools allow students to attend from all branches of the military.)
Besides qualifying as a parachute ops jumpmaster and diving ops supervisor, his instructor certifications include Rock climbing & skiing instructor, Water safety survival instructor (WSSI), and Law enforcement firearms instructor.
While training with foreign units on several deployments in Japan, Korea and the Philippines, he learned Japanese, Korean and Tagalog (Philippine) language skills and studied Tae Kwon Do martial arts.
While stationed in Norfolk VA, he also coached a youth basketball team ages 8-10. He played softball for Navy teams that participated in tournaments in Newport RI & Norfolk VA.
He was then selected for a US Presidential Management Fellowship in the Bush Jr. administration with US Dept. of Energy in Washington DC under US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham serving as a Budget Analyst and Congressional Liaison coordinating a $15 billion portfolio with congressional offices & committees supporting hazardous materials security for US energy facilities worldwide.
He also led an executive protection detail in Iraq in 2006 ensuring security for American author Elizabeth Kilbride who deployed with combat units to Anbar province & Al Asad region to conduct research for her book on combat operations which was sponsored by businessman, philanthropist, and Navy veteran Ross Perot.
During his successful tours with the Marines & Navy, O'Brien made seven overseas deployments supporting US national security & diplomacy and Top Secret high-risk, no-notice missions including crisis response, disaster relief, and search & rescue; specialized in hazardous operations in extreme desert, jungle, mountain, underwater, and winter environments; and conducted training & operations in 18 US states and 20 countries in Asia, the middle east, the Caribbean & Europe with numerous federal agencies (State Dept., FBI, DIA, CIA, HSD), foreign military units, and law enforcement depts. including service with US Secret Service details that protected 3 US Presidents.
Commander O'Brien credits the success of his units to "outstanding leadership, training and teammates he served with who call each other "brothers" and who made me a better leader."
He says the key to success in the Marine Corps and Navy is "the TEAM of troops who we lead, train, deploy and operate with who have each other's backs all day everyday especially in (often very fast-moving) missions with maximum risks and threats to protect America and represent America with professionalism and honor, courage & commitment. I'm humbled we got through all we did, contributed to US national security worldwide, and I owe our success, and truly my life, to my brothers and God. I was also blessed to have great bosses who gave me & our units super opportunities. I'm most humbled by brothers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms & their Gold Star families who are in my prayers every day. So I try to give back every day in honor of and gratitude for our troops, their families, veterans & our supporters everywhere today who are a great example of the best of American service to our nation & the world."