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thedrifter
07-02-05, 05:53 AM
Big Four accountant moonlights as Marine in Iraq
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story by Sgt. Juan Vara

AL ASAD, Iraq (July 1, 2005) -- Pfc. Amy E. Crego is a reserve Marine who’s never done any monthly drills. The Los Angeles native, a certified public accountant, didn’t even get a chance to experience what being a reservist is like before she had orders to Iraq.

Serving with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764 as a maintenance administrative clerk, Crego is a 2002 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and puts it to use working for an international accounting firm in L.A.

A few years ago, when Crego was still in college, representatives from the five international accountancy firms that handled the majority of audits for publicly traded corporations looked for applicants and she landed a job with Arthur Andersen, the largest of the ‘Big Five.’

As a result of involvement in the Enron collapse, Arthur Andersen voluntarily surrendered its certified public accounting firm license. The firm was removed from the Big Five and Crego’s future was at stake.

A recruiter from one of the military services was on campus one day and struck up a conversation with Crego. After she told him about her plans and the sudden changes he brought up the military as an employment option. “That’s what planted the seed,” said the 25-year-old. “It kind of stuck with me.”

Crego found out later about an opening at PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the now Big Four accountancy firms, and took the position. “My goal all along was to work for a big accounting firm,” she said.

A three-mile race held at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, put a spin on things.

After having joined PricewaterhouseCoopers Crego was an auditor working mostly with insurance companies and took part in “The Boot Camp Challenge.” She remembers seeing recruits marching as she drove around the base and as she was running through the drill fields and the obstacle course the idea of serving her country became something she definitely wanted to do.

With a great deal of support from her counselors and superiors in PwC, Crego enlisted in the Marine Corps in April 2004 but didn’t leave for basic training until November, when she completed two years with the firm. After graduating from basic training she attended the maintenance administrative clerk course at Naval Air Station, Meridian, Miss., and returned to California to check in with her unit.

The squadron, based at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., had been activated and it was already in Iraq. She was told she’d be coming here in a few weeks to catch up with them.

“I called the firm and said, ‘Remember how I said I was coming back? I’m not coming back just yet,’” she said. “They were disappointed but they were really supportive again. Every one said things like, ‘Be safe and let us know if you need anything.’”

With a college degree Crego could have joined the Marine Corps as an officer. She would have had to make an active duty commitment and leave the firm, but she decided to join as an enlisted reservist and be able to do both.

“I wanted to be able to keep my job so I had to be a reservist,” she said. “The only way to come in to the reserves is as an enlisted Marine.”

And she doesn’t mind starting from the bottom. There are programs that after a certain time in service she can request a commission and she’s thought about looking into them as that time nears.

“At this point I really want to serve,” she said. “Circumstances always change, but I always wanted to be a Marine. If I do become an officer I’ll know what’s going on with the people I’m supervising because I’ve been in their shoes.”

Crego’s role as a maintenance administrative clerk is important to the squadron and ultimately to the warfighters on the ground rooting out insurgents and foreign fighters throughout the Al Anbar province.

“If no one keeps track of the aircraft maintenance records then the squadron can’t keep the helicopters flying,” she said. “The ground troops rely on the helicopters for transportation, re-supply and other things.”

When HMM-764 returns to California and its inactive reserve status Crego will go back to the firm and continue working as an accountant. She’ll report for training two days per month and will conduct annual training two weeks per year.

Her plan is to stay in the Marine Corps reserves as long as she can and move up the ranks both in her military and accounting career.

“I really like being an auditor. I work with great people and I have great clients,” she said. “I love being with the squadron too. I’m just lucky I get to do both.”

Ellie