Mourning A Hero

Command Sergeant Major Thomas E. Williams, left, present an award to Shane Barnes on St. Aloysius altar
Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas E. Williams, left, and 2nd Lt. Shane Barnes in 2011. Photo by Jerry Rolwes

November 15, 2023
Gonzaga University News Service

It is with deep sadness that Gonzaga learned of the tragic death of alumnus and distinguished ROTC graduate Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane M. Barnes (’11). Shane and four other service members died in a helicopter crash over the Mediterranean Sea on Friday, Nov. 10, while conducting a routine air refueling mission.

Shane attended Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California, received a full ROTC scholarship and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Gonzaga in 2011. He served as the Bulldog Battalion’s Battalion Commander, was a member of the Gonzaga Black Championship ROTC Ranger Challenge Team and was honored with the Command Sergeant Major Thomas Williams Leadership Excellence Award. He graduated in the top 10% of the national ROTC class in 2011, earning him the designation of Distinguished Military Graduate.

A Blackhawk pilot, Shane served in Korea followed by deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, where he supported Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve. He received more than a dozen military awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross with “V” Device for Valor, Air Medal, Combat Action Badge, Army Commendation Medal, and National Defense Service Medal.

“Shane was an outstanding husband, father, son, brother, soldier, and citizen who believed in what he was doing and what we stand for,” said retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alan Westfield, Gonzaga ROTC recruiting officer and assistant professor of military science. “He was the best of the best.”

In a 2015 Jesuit High School interview, Shane expressed the importance of being a “Man for Others.” He said, “I learned to devote myself to something greater than myself at Jesuit. I have always felt called to service, and the Army has given purpose and meaning to that call. The legacy I choose to leave is that I defended those I love.”

The entire Gonzaga community extends our deepest condolences to Shane’s family, friends, and fellow service members during this incredibly difficult time. We mourn the loss of a courageous individual who exemplified the Jesuit values of service, compassion, and leadership.

Information regarding funeral services will be forthcoming.