Kearny man will be promoted to lieutenant commander in US Navy next month


Lt. John O’Neill Wilson, US Navy

Lt. John O’Neill Wilson, of Kearny, a member of the United States Navy, will be promoted in July in a ceremony in New York City.

Wilson was born in Hudson County. After completing his bachelor’s degree at St. John’s University in New York City in 2011, he moved to Philadelphia to attend Drexel University School of Law. While at Drexel Law, Wilson was the president of the criminal law society, a member of the trial team and dean’s scholar in criminal law.

Wilson worked for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, prosecuting cases in the Philadelphia Municipal Court and Court of Common Pleas, ranging from misdemeanor offenses to felony cases including child abuse, drug

distribution and family violence.  Wilson also worked at the Philadelphia City Law Department’s Civil Rights Unit, where he defended Philadelphia law-enforcement and government employees against §1983 actions. He earned his JD in May 2014, magna cum laude, passed bar exams and was admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.

Wilson joined the U.S. Navy JAGC through the direct accessions program. He was a general practitioner at a small firm in Philadelphia, with focus areas in state and federal criminal defense, plaintiff personal injury actions and civil-rights litigation. He was responsible for all criminal defense and civil rights matters. After two years as an associate, Wilson was commissioned in August 2016.

Wilson completed Naval Justice School, with honors, class standing 1 out of 52.

He was the recipient of the American Bar Association award for Professional Merit, American Association of Justice Outstanding Trial Advocacy Skills and the Military Officers Association of America Award for Professional Excellence. Wilson was also a finalist in both the trial advocacy and client counseling competitions.

While stationed at Regional Legal Services Office, Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia, Wilson completed his First Tour Judge Advocate (FTJA) Program. He served as trial counsel for contested special and general courts’ martial.

Wilson served as the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) for 12 commands across eight countries, including three Navy installations and two new installations in Poland and Romania. He provided legal support on a Sixth Fleet exercise for the protection of Israel, and participated in the bilateral training initiative with the United Kingdom Royal Navy.

Wilson then served as the installation SJA for Naval Air Station, Key West, Florida. His collateral duties included the PII Officer, Claims Officer, JAG Recruitment Officer for the entire southeast region and causality assistance calls officer.

His legal counsel to the installation, as well as its 17 tenant commands, including JIATF and the Coast Guard, supported maritime training, crisis response, post-hurricane actions, ethics and military justice. Wilson also provided limited legal assistance help to all military members and their dependents in the Key West area.

Wilson is currently serving as the SJA for Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One and Squadron Three in San Diego. The west coast LCS program is the largest surface squadron in the Navy. His duties include supporting 18 ships manned with dual crews, pre-commissioned units and approximately 3,500 sailors within the command.

During his tenure, Wilson executed high-visibility investigations, more than a dozen triad relief actions and supported LCS deployments to C7F, C4F and C3F AOR. During this tour, Wilson was the executive department head, leading 28 sailors across five divisions (medical, security, religious ministries, legal and public affairs.)

Wilson will be promoted to lieutenant commander July 1, 2024.  He will assume duties of Officer in Charge for the Region Legal Service Office Southeast Detachment Ventura in August. He is entitled to wear the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, Expert Rifleman Medal and Expert Pistol Shot Medal.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.