Chief Warrant Officer Shane Barnes, a Sacramento native and devoted family man, was killed last week in a training accident over the Mediterranean Sea.
Barnes, 34, graduated from Jesuit High School in Carmichael in 2007. He left Sacramento and turned down an offer to attend West Point to study English literature at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, a Jesuit institution, where he participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
Joshua Barnes said his older brother had a lifelong ambition to join the military. Growing up, Barnes was surrounded by examples of public service in his father, a retired law enforcement officer, and his grandfather, an Air Force veteran. Their examples motivated Barnes, he said.
Barnes initially wanted to pursue a career in the Air Force as a jet pilot, but at 6-foot-4, he was too tall to fit in most cockpits. So he opted for the “next best thing and that was to fly helicopters,” Joshua Barnes said.
Barnes enlisted in the Army and attended flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he successfully completed training to become an UH-60 Black Hawk pilot. There, he also met his wife, Samantha, a fellow Black Hawk pilot, the family said in a statement to Jesuit High School.
He served in South Korea, flying in missions to defend the demilitarized zone, he told a Jesuit High School alumni publication in 2015.
“I learned to devote myself to something greater than myself at Jesuit,” Barnes said at the time. “I have always felt called to service, and the Army has given purpose and meaning to that call.”
Following his time in South Korea, he successfully completed training and assessments to serve as a platoon leader and operations officer in the 1st Battalion 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the branch’s Special Operations Command said in a news release. In this role, he flew missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and multiple other deployments.
“I signed up to keep the evils that plague our world out of my country as best I can,” Barnes said in 2015. “The legacy I choose to leave is that I defended those I love.”
In 2020, he resigned his commission as a captain and took on the rank of chief warrant officer to continue to serve in the 160th.
“As an instructor pilot and fully mission qualified pilot, Barnes significantly impacted the training aviators within the formation,” Special Operation Command said.
“Shane Barnes was a ‘Man for Others,’” Chris Alling, president of Jesuit High School, said in a letter to alumni.
Barnes was awarded numerous commendations during his service including the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, Air Medal with Combat, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal.
In his personal life, Barnes was a loving family man, taking every opportunity to spend time with his wife and two young daughters. He loved hunting, feeding people and bringing them together, said Joshua Barnes.
“I think the thing that defined my brother to me is that I want people to know that he loved really well,” he said. “He didn’t care where people came from, what they believed. ... He was just a good person. He taught me a lot about respect for other people.”
Barnes’ Christian faith played a significant role in his life but became even more central as he became a father, Joshua Barnes said.
“Doing things with and for his family was always really important to him,” he said.
Jesuit High School will hold a private Mass for Barnes on Monday.
In addition to his brother, Joshua, and wife, Samantha, Barnes is survived by two daughters, 1 and 5 years old; and parents, Michael and Kelly.