CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
With advancing technology, the violence of battle has bled into cyber space and a new kind of warfare has emerged. After 20 years of dedicated service, the Marine Corps is saying goodbye to a man who has been at the forefront of this evolution.
Gunnery Sgt. Pedro “Pete” Lujan, the cyber security chief for 9th Communication Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, was recognized for his service during a ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 21, 2015.
1st Lt. Yinan Yang, the assistant operations officer for 9th Comm., said Lujan is known in his unit as the go-to Marine for anything related to computer security and technological vulnerabilities.
“He is the epitome of a technical expert,” said Yang. “He knows this job inside and out, and he has taught me a lot.”
Lujan explained that he places a higher value on knowledge and understanding than certificates or promotions. If he didn’t know something, he knew where to find out.
“He is a very smart individual who is always thinking three steps ahead,” said Sgt. Clifton Kralewskr. “He’s very good at knowing the right person to talk to and getting you the information that you need.”
However, Lujan was not always the security expert his Marines know now. Lujan said he had no intention of working with computers when he first enlisted out of Rosamond, California, in October 1995.
“They told me I was going to be a legal administration Marine. Then I went through recruit training and they made me personnel administration,” said Lujan. “I hated the job and everything about it, but I loved being a Marine.”
During his first enlistment, he heard some Marines who worked with computers and data discussing jobs they had lined up with major companies when they finished their service. When his contract was nearing its end, he reenlisted and changed his military occupational specialty to small computer systems specialist.
Once promoted to sergeant in 2001, Lujan was one of the first to apply for a new MOS called information assurance technician. In this new field, Lujan had the opportunity to receive advanced training in cyber security and become part of the Marine Corps Red Team specializing in network penetration and vulnerability assessments.
“I’ve got NSA Red Team training and worked with the FBI and the Defense Threat Reduction agency,” said Lujan. “They even sent me to a simulated terrorist training camp to understand what actual terrorists would do, how they would think, and how they would act.”
Lujan’s new skills gave him the ability to help maintain the security of Marines in unstable areas. Throughout his 20year career, Lujan spent a total of approximately five years deployed.
Lujan said that one of his goals after retirement is to find a job where he can spend more time with his family. He explained that his wife and children have helped and supported him throughout his career, especially during deployments.
“My wife and I have dated since we were freshmen in high school,” said Lujan, who explained that he has seen families fall apart when Marines deploy. “I think in our relationship, the times apart have been a refreshing time to come back and rejuvenate our marriage.”
Lujan also said that in his eyes, biology is not the only thing that makes a family. The Marines he served with are family and responsible for the man he is today.
“I love the camaraderie and the core values they instill in us in recruit training … We help each other, we back each other up and you can see the pride,” said Lujan. “As soon I have my uniform on, I stand a little straighter, and I feel better about myself. It’s about being part of something bigger than yourself.”
Many things have changed throughout the decades Lujan has served. The first two jobs he held and a few of the units he served with no longer exist in the Marine Corps.
However, some things are kept alive through the generations by each Marine who serves.
“You think about all the things the Marine Corps has done, all of the places we’ve been, there is always that next battle over the horizon,” said Yang. “We always rise up to the challenge and face it head on. That is Gunny Lujan’s legacy and our legacy as Marines.”
The Marines who worked with Gunnery Sgt. Lujan will follow his example of maintaining a high state of readiness and ability to respond to emergent requirements across the globe.