Giving Back

Livingston High School Alum Promoted to Colonel in U.S. Army

Chris Barra in Baghdad Credits: Chris Barra
Chris Barra Veteran's Day Speech Credits: Chris Barra
Chris Barra in Mosul, Iraq Credits: Chris Bara

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Chris Barra, a Livingston High School Class of 1985 alum who is graduating from the United States Army War College on July 24, was recently named Colonel in the U.S. Army. Now living in Manhattan Beach, Calif., Barra has been promoted from Lt. Colonel to full Colonel in the weeks leading up to his Army War College graduation.

Friends from all over the country flocked to Facebook to congratulate Barra on his accomplishments, including the new promotion, his 24th wedding anniversary with his wife, Lory, and for completing his third master’s degree after two years. Following his four-year coeducational federal service academy experience at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Barra was commissioned to 2nd lt. in 1989 and went on full active duty in Hawaii. According to Barra, there is only a 35 percent chance of promotion from Lt. Col. to higher positions in the U.S. Army. This year, Barra was in the 35 percent.

“Now that it's official, we can all offer sincere congratulations,” Barra’s friend Stan Justice posted on social media. “Our prayers are answered, in that a very deserving, dedicated Patriot has been recognized not only for his brilliance, but for helping make America a better place for all of us to live and raise our children and the flag.”

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Barra’s father immigrated to the United States on the Queen Mary, choosing to raise his family in Livingston. Barra said he knew from a very young age he wanted to join the U.S. Army because he wanted to thank the country for providing him with a successful future that he may not have had otherwise. For many years, Barra’s mother was a teacher at Heritage Middle School, and Barra always felt Livingston’s schooling system was a major factor in his many successes.

“Ultimately the biggest impact was the great education I got there,” said Barra. “I’ve somehow managed to get an undergraduate degree and three graduate degrees without paying for any of them because I got such a great education in high school.”

Following in his mother’s footsteps, Barra also teaches Military History for one quarter each year at UCLA, where he received a master’s degree in Business Administration. Since leaving a career at Goldman Sachs, Barra says the UCLA course is the most rewarding thing he does during his inactive months. 

Barra only actively reengaged with the Army following 9/11, before which he was in the Individual Ready Reserves, where his name was written in case he was needed. Barra said the most impactful and roughest experience he has had during his service was being deployed to Iraq in 2008 and 2009, when he had to leave his family and his then-6-month-old son at home. 

Now, Barra is happy to announce his 24 happy years with Lory as well as the happiness of his son, now seven years old and daughter, who is four. During his future as Col. and an active Airborne Ranger in the U.S. Army, Barra hopes to give his two children the same life his father gave to him.

“[My dad] gave us a pretty good life and I figured I owed the country something back,” said Barra. “It seems like a pretty good way to give back and certainly commanding troops in combat has been pretty fulfilling.” 

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