Colonel John Barranco
Colonel Barranco was commissioned through the United States Naval Academy, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in History. Following graduation, he reported to The Basic School as a member of Delta Company 4-93.
After graduation from TBS, Colonel Barranco reported to flight school and was winged in October 1995. In January 1996, he reported to HMLAT-303 in Camp Pendleton, California, for AH-1W training. Upon completing HMLAT-303, Colonel Barranco was assigned to HMLA-169, the Vipers, and deployed on three MEUs with HMM-161 (1997), HMM-165 (1999), and HMM-163 (2001). While deployed on the USS Peleliu with the 15th MEU (SOC), the September 11th, 2001, attacks occurred, and the 15th MEU (SOC) conducted the initial Marine action in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Following OEF, Colonel Barranco reported to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) in Yuma, Arizona, for duty as an AH-1W instructor pilot. While at MAWTS, he deployed to Iraq in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) as an augment member of HMLA-269, the Gunrunners.
Following MAWTS-1 Colonel Barranco was assigned to HMLA-369, the Gunfighters, and completed two more tours to OIF in 2005-2006 and 2007. He reported to Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC) Aviation in February 2008, serving as H-1 Transition Task Force (TTF) Lead from February 2008 until April 2010. Colonel Barranco assumed command of The Watchdogs of VMU-1 on 13 June 2010 while deployed to OEF. Following a second deployment to OEF 2011-2012, he reported to The Eisenhower School, National Defense University.
After school, Colonel Barranco served as the J-33 Homeland Defense Division Joint Operations/Theater Security Branch Chief on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Staff from June 2013 to May 2015. From May 2015 until February 2016, he was the Executive Officer to the Commander of U.S. Southern Command. Colonel Barranco was then reassigned to HQMC Aviation and served as the APX Branch Head from February-August 2016 and as APW-1, the Aviation Programs and Weapons Requirements Branch Head, from August 2016 until July 2017. He commanded Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Atlantic (EWTGLANT) from July 2017 to July 2019. Colonel Barranco subsequently served as Aviation Plans, Policies, Programs, and Budget Branch Head (APP-1) in HQMC Aviation from July 2019 until July 2021. From July 2021 to August 2022, he was the Marine Corps fellow at The Atlantic Council. Colonel Barranco’s last assignment was to the Naval Discharge Review Board.
Colonel Barranco is a USMC Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course graduate and a Distinguished Graduate of The Eisenhower School. His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, two individual Air Medals, one with Combat V, Strike/Flight Air Medal 20th award, three Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medals, one with Combat V and two Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals. During his career as a Naval Aviator, Colonel Barranco has amassed 3,500 flight hours in the AH-1W, over 1,000 hours of combat flying, 1,000 hours flying on night vision goggles, and eight deployments, of which six were combats deployments (three to OEF and three to OIF). He has also logged flight time in the AH-1Z, UH-1N, F/A-18, F-5, and Mi-24 Hind.