Staff Sergeant Justin Grunes enlisted in the United States Marines Corps in July 2002 and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
After graduating the Basic Musician Course at the Naval School of Music in Virginia Beach, Virginia he reported to III Marine Expeditionary Force Band, Okinawa, Japan to serve as a clarinet instrumentalist.
In 2004, SSgt Grunes transferred to 1st Marine Division Band, Camp Pendleton, California to continue service as an instrumentalist. He deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in July 2006 to support Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Sergeant of the Guard aboard Camp Fallujah. Shortly following his six-month combat tour, he left the Marine Corps in April 2007 to pursue a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Delaware.
Shortly after beginning studies at UD, SSgt Grunes transferred service branch and enlisted in the National Guard as a reservist with the 287th Army Band, Wilmington, Delaware. In 2011, he graduated cum laude and returned to the Marine Corps music program the following year.
In September 2012, SSgt Grunes reported to Parris Island Marine Band to resume duties as a Marine bandsman. After two years’ service, SSgt Grunes was selected for follow-on training at the eight month- long Unit Leader Course, Naval School of Music. After graduation in May 2015, SSgt Grunes reported to Marine Band San Diego where he carried out a two-year tour.
In August 2017, SSgt Grunes was recalled to the Naval School of Music to serve as a clarinet instructor. He also fulfilled responsibilities as Woodwind Branch Head, Physical Training team leader, Information Systems Coordinator, and Equal Opportunity Representative.
SSgt Grunes reported to 2d Marine Aircraft Wing Band in October 2020. Aside from instrumental performances, he has served as Platoon Sergeant and is currently the band’s Small Ensemble Leader.
SSgt Grunes’s personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2nd award) and the Army Achievement Medal.