Lieutenant Colonel Courtney D. O'Brien was born in Hanover, PA and graduated from New Oxford High School in 2000. She attended the United States Naval Academy, graduated with distinction in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and minor in French, and was commissioned a second lieutenant. Following the Naval Academy, as part of the Voluntary Graduate Education Program, Lieutenant Colonel O'Brien attended the University of Maryland, College Park and graduated in December 2004 with a Master of Arts degree in Government and Politics, specializing in International Relations.
Following completion of The Basic School in Quantico, VA in July 2005, Lieutenant Colonel O’Brien reported to NAS Pensacola for Aviation Preflight Indoctrination. She then completed primary flight training in April 2006 at NAS Corpus Christi, TX with VT-27. After selecting the KC-130 as her aviation platform, she completed advanced flight training with VT-31 at NAS Corpus Christi and earned her Naval Aviator wings on the Commodore’s List on 11 May 2007.
Lieutenant Colonel O’Brien reported to MCAS Miramar to join the VMGR-352 Raiders and subsequently completed the KC-130J Aviation Training Unit at MCAS Cherry Point to earn designation as a KC-130J pilot. As a Raider, from July 2007 through November 2011, Lieutenant Colonel O’Brien executed two combat deployments, one in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM as part of VMGR-352 Detachment A at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan and the second as part of VMGR-352 Detachment B in Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti in support of the 13th and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Units. She returned from her second deployment to successfully complete the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-12 as a KC-130J pilot.
While at VMGR-352, Lieutenant Colonel O'Brien attained the designations and qualifications of Weapons and Tactics Instructor, Flight Leadership Standardization Evaluator, NATOPS Evaluator, Strategic Refueling Area Commander, and Crew Resource Management Instructor. She held the billets of Adjutant, Loadmaster OIC, and Flight Officer. From November 2011 to February 2014, Lieutenant Colonel O’Brien remained at MCAS Miramar and served as KC-130J Fleet Replacement Detachment West Officer-in-Charge and provided augment instructor support to VMGR-352.
Lieutenant Colonel O'Brien received orders to MAWTS-1 at MCAS Yuma as a KC-130 instructor pilot from February 2014 to December 2016. She performed duties as KC-130 Division Head, Air Delivery SME, and the USMC Air-to-Air Refueling Model Manager. She led the rewrite of numerous KC-130 tactical publications and served as the USMC air-to-air refueling liaison to the NATO Military Committee Air Standardization Board. She also earned qualification as a UC-12W pilot.
In December 2016, Lieutenant Colonel O’Brien reported to the VMGR-152 Sumos at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. She served as the Future Operations Officer, Assistant Operations Officer, and OIC for numerous KC-130 detachments in the INDOPACOM AOR. Lieutenant Colonel O’Brien fulfilled her department head tour as the Operations Officer for the squadron from February 2018 to May 2019 and supported multiple exercises, including Cobra Gold, Northern Edge, Pitch Black, Talisman Sabre, and Valiant Shield.
Lieutenant Colonel O’Brien reported to the Headquarters United States Marine Corps, Department of Aviation at the Pentagon in May 2019, where she was promoted to her current rank and served as the Aviation Readiness Officer until October 2021. She was then selected to return to and command VMGR-352 at MCAS Miramar and served as MAG-11 PSD and Headquarters Detachment CO while awaiting squadron command. Her personal awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, Air Medal with six Strike Flight Awards, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Lieutenant Colonel O’Brien is married to Lieutenant Colonel Michael James O'Brien of Elkins Park, PA, slated to assume command of VMFA-314 as an F-35C pilot. They have a daughter, Brooklyn Elizabeth O'Brien (age 8), and a son, Jadon Taj O'Brien (age 6).