BHS graduate serves as IED detector in Marines
Just fifteen months after graduating from Burleson High School, Justin Trujilo was on his way to San Diego to participate in basic military training for the Marine Corp. Little did he know that he was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, making friends and helping others while also serving his country.
Trujilo specialized as a combat engineer. On any given day, Trujilo could be doing construction, demolition, bridging or air filtration repairs. However, he also has training as an IED (improvised explosive device) detector.
“When I first went through training, almost all of our instructors were skilled combat veterans,” Trujilo said. “They had seen some stuff. They gave us first-hand experience of what it was like to come across an IED and what to do.”
Training was so intense that if a soldier failed even one portion of their test, they were eliminated from the program. Trujilo said every single detail was done to the wire and had to be perfect.
“It really gets in your head because if you miss a single thing, it could cost someone their life. You have to look for certain signs and be able to tell if someone has planted an IED.”
Trujilo uses tools such as metal detectors and sonar to penetrate the ground and “see” an IED that may have been planted. If an IED is detected, soldiers will use grappling hooks that are used to throw out at the object and then are ripped back if a wire is detected. Soldiers also use a tool called an A-pop, which shoots out grenades to blow up an IED.
While Trujilo has spent countless hours training to detect an IED, he has not yet had the experience of finding one out while on a deployment. He did, however, spend time in Bahrain and Iraq where he did construction and building repairs. Additionally, Trujilo participated as a “guardian angel” and went out with some officers to speak with local people.
“It wasn’t what you might expect at all,” Trujilo said. “They were very nice. They offered us food and tea and were very respectful. But at the same time, we really had to keep our head on a swivel because of the territory we were in.”
While Trujilo couldn’t comment on whether he had encountered any gunfire or attacks, Trujilo and his fellow soldiers in his squadron, Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, found out that they had been rated number one in the entire Marine Corp while at their location.
“We were so excited,” Trujilo said. “It just felt like all of our hard work had paid off. I actually got promoted to Corporal while out there. That was a really special experience.”
Trujilo said his family inspired him to join the Marines, especially his uncle.
“Growing up I was always the smallest kid and got bullied a lot,” he said. “He told me to stick up to the bullies and not to let them push me around. I think I’ve made him proud of who I have become. He was also in the Marines.”
Trujilo is in the process of reenlisting and plans to stay in “until they kick me out.”
“I have a new family here in the Marines,” Trujilo said. “We look out for each other. I think I would miss that.”
Trujilo’s squadron is deploying again soon but he said he is excited about the next adventure.
“It’s just another day in the life, you know?”