LtCol. Donnie Barbaree grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia and attended college at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. In 2004, he attended Officer Candidate School and commissioned into the Marine Corps in 2005, upon graduation from VMI. LtCol. Barbaree then reported to The Basic School (TBS) in September 2005 to complete Introductory Flight Screening followed by TBS with A Company 06.
After completing TBS, LtCol. Barbaree reported to Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola, Florida to begin formal training as a Student Naval Aviator in the summer of 2006. He completed the program and was designated a Naval Aviator in July 2008 with follow-on orders to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron (HMLAT) 303 on MCAS Camp Pendleton for training as an AH-1W Pilot. In 2009, LtCol. Barbaree reported to his first operational squadron, HMLA-269 on MCAS New River and deployed in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM (2009) and ENDURING FREEDOM (2011). During his time with HMLA-269, LtCol. Barbaree served as the Ground Safety Officer, AH Pilot Training Officer, Future Operations Officer and Assistant Operations Officer. In 2012, he attended the Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course and was designated an AH-1W WTI, Forward Air Controller (Airborne) Instructor, Air Mission Commander and Flight Leader.
In 2013, LtCol. Barbaree was selected to attend resident Expeditionary Warfare School (EWS) in Quantico, Virginia where he completed the course as a distinguished graduate. Following EWS, he joined 2d Marine Raider Battalion (MRB) in 2014 and began preparing for a 2016-2017 deployment with Marine Special Operations Company, Fox in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR). During his time with 2d MRB, LtCol. Barbaree attended the Army Basic Airborne Course and the WTI Air Officer Course achieving designation as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) Evaluator and Instructor for the Marine Corps, as well as JTAC Instructor for U.S. Special Operations Command.
LtCol. Barbaree completed his tour with 2d MRB in 2017 and reported to Marine Corps Command and Staff College (CSC) in Quantico, Virginia. He completed the school in 2018 as a distinguished graduate and Gray Scholar, earning a Master’s Degree in Military Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Future Concept Development. Following CSC, LtCol. Barbaree reported to Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 29 to resume duties as an AH-1W pilot and serve as the MAG Plans Officer. In June 2019, LtCol. Barbaree reported back to HMLA-269 as the Assistant Aircraft Maintenance Officer and completed his AH-1W refresh syllabus followed by conversion to the AH-1Z. He assumed duties of Aircraft Maintenance Officer in January 2020. Upon completion of his tour with HMLA-269, LtCol. Barbaree moved back to MAG-29 HQ to serve as the Assistant Operations Officer. LtCol. Barbaree is returning to MCAS New River from the Pentagon where he served the Deputy Commandant for Aviation as the Operations and Readiness cell for the Cunningham Group.
His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with Strike/Flight numeral 9, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star, and the Combat Action Ribbon.