Captain Sean O’Brien assumes command of Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City after serving in a one-year assignment leading a dedicated team of Coast Guard trainers and advisors in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this high op-tempo detachment, he was responsible for advising and training the Kingdom and its soldiers on how to build, organize, train, equip and sustain a 6,000-member maritime security force. His team was charged with enhancing the capabilities of a partner nation by providing valuable training, lessons and experience on how to defend and secure Saudi Arabia’s maritime critical infrastructure in its littorals, which are under constant threat of attack from violent extremist organizations and adversaries.
A Coast Guard Helicopter Flight Examiner, Rotary Wing Air Intercept Instructor Pilot, and Aircraft Commander in all models of the Coast Guard H65 helicopter aircraft, Captain O’Brien has commanded thousands of homeland security, military and humanitarian missions, to include responding to three historic hurricanes and hundreds of search and rescue cases where he is credited with saving 224 lives. Operational assignments include: Executive, Operations and Assistant Ops Officer at Air Station Atlantic City, Flight Safety Officer at Air Station Houston, TX, Air Station Traverse City, MI and Coast Guard Cutter VIGOROUS in Cape May, NJ.
Captain O’Brien attended the US Army War College for an intense one-year course of study on national security strategy, foreign policy and international relations with added focus on Middle East studies, to include authoring and defending a U.S. strategy for Saudi Arabia. Previously, he was assigned to the office of Officer Personnel Management as the Aviation detailer at Coast Guard Personnel Command in Arlington, VA where he was responsible for the assignment of all Coast Guard aviators.
Captain O’Brien is a 1997 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy and a graduate of the U.S. Navy Flight School where he earned his naval aviator “wings of gold.” He holds a Masters of Arts in National Security Strategic Studies and Joint Professional Military Education phase two certificate from the U.S. Army War College, a Masters in Quality Systems Management from the National Graduate School, an Aviation Safety and Security certificate from the University of Southern California, and Joint Professional Military Education phase one certificate from the U.S. Air Force Command and Staff College.
Captain O’Brien’s personal decorations include: two Meritorious Service Medals, two Air Medals, three Coast Guard Commendation Medals, six Coast Guard Achievement Medals, and a Commandant’s Letters of Commendation. In 2005, Captain O’Brien received the Captain Marion "Gus" Shrode Award for leading the Coast Guard's top safety program. In 2009, he was awarded the Coast Guard's Exceptional Aviator of the Year by the Order of the Daedalians. In 2010, he led his aircrew on a rescue of four mariners from a sinking fishing vessel in a Nor’easter storm and the Coast Guard recognized his aircrew with the Captain Frank Erickson Award. In 2012, Captain O’Brien was selected by the U.S. Coast Guard Academy alumni association for the distinguished Alumni Achievement award.
Captain O’Brien is the son of Jim and Nancy O’Brien from Havertown, Pennsylvania. He is married to the former Valerie Varallo of Aldan, Pennsylvania for over 20 years and is the proud father of three boys: Conor (18), Michael (16) and Jack (13).