Colonel Starnes is a graduate of Texas A&M University, Class of 1981. He served for 30 years in the United States Marine Corps, commanding at every level from Artillery Battery to Artillery Regiment. During his years in the Marine Corps, Col Starnes also taught at US Army Field Artillery School at Ft Sill, Oklahoma, attended both the US Naval War College and the US Army War College, and served on joint duty with the US Central Command and as an Exchange Officer with the United Kingdom’s Permanent Joint Headquarters.
Colonel Starnes served two tours of duty in Iraq, first in 2003 when he commanded 1st Battalion, 10th Marines in support of Regimental Combat Team-2 at the Battle for Nasiriyah in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. He returned to Iraq in 2005 as the G-3 for Multi-National Force – West, deployed to Fallujah, Iraq for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 4-6.
Colonel Starnes awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with 2 Gold Stars in lieu of second and third award, Bronze Star with Combat V, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star in lieu of second award, Joint Commendation Medal, Joint Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal with 2 Gold Stars in lieu of second and third award, the Army Achievement Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon. The Queen of England also conferred upon Colonel Starnes the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) – Military Division for his work at PJHQ.
Col Starnes retired in August 2011. He returned to his native Texas, retiring in College Station where he was able to begin the second best job in the world (after being a US Marine Officer) working with the Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets as a member of the Office of the Commandant. He assumed his current position as the Assistant Commandant for Operations and Training in August 2012.