Like Father, Like Sons: Obellos’ sons are cut from the same Navy cloth

By Spc. Zachery Frost | January 28, 2022


Being stationed overseas can be a stressful thing. A service member’s way of life is changed significantly as they leave everyone they know behind. In many cases, they can’t speak with their families for a long period of time, other than the occasional phone call and video call.

In rare cases, a military member’s child who followed in their footsteps will deploy to the same duty station.

That is the case for Navy Capt. Ernan Obellos, the comptroller for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, headquartered in Bahrain. He originally enlisted in the Navy in 1988, and earned his commission through Officer Candidate School in 1997. He has served on active duty for 33 years and both of his sons followed his example by becoming officers in the U.S. Navy.

“It is beyond phenomenal from a fatherly pride perspective,” said Obellos when asked what it’s like being stationed near one of his sons.

His younger son, Lt. j.g. Elvin-John Obellos, a surface warfare officer, is currently assigned to USS Gladiator (MCM 11), which operates from Bahrain. This is same ship that Obellos was assigned to 22 years ago.

“I got the chance to visit his ship last Thanksgiving,” said Obellos.

His eldest son, Lt. Kristopher-Louis Obellos, is currently assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1, based on Whidbey Island, Washington.

Obellos has been able to see his children grow throughout their military careers. He had the opportunity to participate in both of his sons’ commissioning ceremonies and Kristopher-Louis’s promotion to Lieutenant. Elvin-John was also able to attend Obellos’s change of command ceremony when he took command of Defense Logistics Agency Aviation San Diego in 2018.

“Seeing them move up the ranks doing what they do is always a beacon of pride,” said Obellos. “Not just for me and my wife, but for our family as well.”

Obellos is able to use his experience and wisdom to teach them about what makes a great leader, but he also learns from them as well.

“I am one of the few Cold War Sailors left on active duty,” said Obellos. “I definitely have a three-decade-old view of our Navy with lifelong transition to where we are at this time. A lot of changes had occurred for the betterment of our Navy.

“They're both in a different generation; they both definitely have different perspectives on how the world looks. When able, I'm very interested in their opinions, specifically things that happen in our Navy, and absorb their thoughts on how to lead younger Sailors.”

There are specific leadership qualities he has shared with his sons, such as responsibility, accountability, and authority as they perform their daily leadership roles. He also encourages them to “grasp the concept that great leaders are comfortable being uncomfortable.”

The opportunity to parent and lead his sons while serving alongside them is a very special occurrence.

“I’m very proud of my two boys and to be able to serve side-by-side with them,” said Obellos. “It’s an uncommon opportunity that I treasure every day and for the days to come.”