Official Biography
Enlisted Conductor
Gunnery Sergeant Justin M. Grunes
Gunnery Sergeant Justin M. Grunes serves as the Enlisted Conductor of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing Band. He is the primary conductor of the Ceremonial Band and supervises musical training and employment of its small ensembles.

Gunnery Sergeant Grunes enlisted as a clarinet musician in July 2002 following his high school graduation. His first tours were with the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band in Okinawa, Japan and the 1st Marine Division Band at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California. He deployed with the division band in 2006 to Fallujah, Iraq where he served as a Sergeant of the Guard for Security Platoon, Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team-5.

Sergeant Grunes left active duty in April of 2007 and returned to his home state of Delaware. That fall, he simultaneously matriculated at the University of Delaware as a music major and reenlisted as a reserve musician with the 287th Army Band, Delaware National Guard. As a music student, Sergeant Grunes played with the university’s myriad ensembles, and as a soldier in the Delaware Guard, he participated in a multitude of community and military events across the first state.

In June of 2012, a year after graduating from university, Sergeant Grunes was granted permission to reenlist as a clarinetist with the Corps and returned to the Marines. His first assignment back was with the Parris Island Marine Band in South Carolina, located aboard the Marine Corps’ eastern Recruit Depot. It was here that he started apprentice work as a conductor and was subsequently nominated to attend the Naval School of Music’s nine-month Unit Leader Course for the 2014-2015 academic year. Sergeant Grunes’ follow-on assignment after training was with Marine Band San Diego, stationed aboard the Marine Corps’ western Recruit Depot. After two years’ service back in California, Sergeant Grunes was selected to return to the Naval School of Music in Virginia Beach as a clarinet instructor.

Staff Sergeant Grunes served as a clarinet instructor starting in the fall of 2017. In addition to his job title, he worked as an information systems coordinator, physical training instructor, and mentor to hundreds of trainee Marines and Sailors. He transferred to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band at Cherry Point, North Carolina in the fall of 2020. Aside from continued performance as a musician during this tour, Staff Sergeant Grunes worked as a Small Ensemble Leader and Enlisted Conductor for the band. He also had the pleasure of appearing with the band in many community and military engagements following the lifting of COVID safety restrictions. He transferred to his current unit July of 2023 and was assigned as the band’s Enlisted Conductor that December.

Gunnery Sergeant Grunes’ awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 awards), Army Achievement Medal, and the 2019 Colonel Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award.