Justin Gaertner

  • May 4, 2015
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Computer Forensic Agent Justin Gaertner


Justin Gaertner joined the United States Marine Corps in 2007 and served five honorable years in the U.S. Military. Gaertner deployed three times overseas, receiving some of the Marine Corps highest honors being the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Valor and the Purple Heart. On November 26, 2010, during his third deployment to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, Gaertner’s platoon was ambushed by the Taliban, disabling one of the lead vehicles. Gaertner was an IED sweeper for his route clearance platoon and swept up to the disabled vehicle to extract a wounded Marine.  Gaertner and another IED sweeper then started sweeping for secondary explosive devices. During this search, Gaertner’s best friend Gabriel Martinez triggered an IED causing the loss of both of his legs.  Gaertner then started sweeping for tertiary IED’s to establish a Helicopter Landing Zone to evacuate the injured Marines.  He triggered a third IED during this sweep, causing the loss of his legs and other life threatening injuries.

                Gaertner was flown to Germany and then Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland to fight his way through his recovery for the next year and a half and to learn how to walk again using prosthetic legs.  Gaertner has since become a world-class athlete competing in various adaptive sporting events including, hand cycling, wheelchair basketball, shot-put, discus, and track racing chair. Gaertner has competed in numerous Marathons and long-distance cycling races across the U.S. and abroad. Gaertner received five gold medals at the National Veteran Wheelchair Games in Tampa, FL in 2013.

Before medically retiring out of the Marine Corps, Gaertner joined Operation Warfighter, which led to him interning at the National Counter Terrorism Center in McLean, VA. He was part of the Weapons of Massive Destruction team and assisted in the development of the Presidential Policy Directorate for Countering IED’s. Gaertner also received a Top Secret/Special Compartmentalized Information (TS/SCI) clearance with Polygraph.

After medically retiring out of the Marine Corps, Gaertner relocated to Tampa, FL and worked as an intern at the Special Operations Command Care Coalition at MacDill AFB. Gaertner assisted Care Coalition employees to help advocate for SOCOM wounded warriors and helped with their medical needs and transitioning out of the military and back into civilian life.

Gaertner was accepted into the H.E.R.O. Child Recue Corps (Human Exploitation Rescue Operative) program in August of 2013. Gaertner became part of the first H.E.R.O. class and left for Knoxville, TN to receive his training in combating child predators, graduating on August 29, 2013. He then traveled to Fairfax, VA to attend Homeland Security Investigation’s Cyber Crimes Center for advanced Computer Forensics training.  Gaertner received his CompTIA A+ certification on September 18, 2013.  Gaertner received advanced training with various Forensic tools, most notably with Guidance Software’s EnCase Utility and Access Data’s Forensic Tool Kit.  Gaertner received his Law-Enforcement Top Secret clearance and then graduated from Homeland Security Investigation’s Basic Computer Evidence Training course on October 18, 2013.

                In November of 2013, Gaertner began an internship at Homeland Security Investigation’s Digital Forensic Unit in Tampa, FL, working Child Exploitation cases and assisting in undercover operations to take down child sexual predators online soliciting children.  He was then hired full time and began finding and saving kids’ lives through his forensic work from analyzing suspect’s devices. Gaertner also works drug smuggling, counter terrorism, and document fraud cases.