Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gothard refines his accounting skills at sea

Story and photos by Cpl. Robert C. Medina

For miles around in swaying waters there is not a bank in sight, only promises of what seems to be a never-ending sea. But Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) still need the same financial support they would find back on base.

Behind a barred window in the ship’s gym works Cpl. Levi A. Gothard, a financial technician with the Command Element of the 13th MEU, and one of only five Marines who are responsible for the entire MEU’s financial transactions on ship.

On a normal day, Gothard deals with transferring funds in and out of his window and accounting for all the money they have on reserve for port visits.

“We also deal with any pay issues the Marines are having, like split-pay, allotments and Navy cash-cards—­­they would all come to us,” said Gothard, a Muncie, Ind. native. “Here we deal mostly with Navy cash-cards because this ship operates without hard cash.”

Gothard says when the ship does pull into port, lines form in front of his window and the exchanging of cash begins.

“Accountability is the most important part of my job,” said Gothard. “There is so much money in your possession you have to be able to take care of it. You definitely need to be trustworthy.”

Before Gothard joined the Marines, he attended Indiana University for two years. His goal is to earn his Bachelors degree in accounting.

“I actually wanted this job in the Marine Corps. I love dealing with all the money and numbers,” said Gothard. “I am trying to apply for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Program (MESEP) as soon as I go back to school next year. Then hopefully go to Officer Candidate School (OCS).”

This program allows enlisted Marines to get a bachelor’s degree and then be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Normally, Marines both active and reserve from the ranks of corporal and above are eligible for this program.

Gothard started preparing and planning for his future early on when he joined and believes the skills he will learn here will help him accomplish his goals.

Sgt. Carter R. Hilton, a financial technician from Clinton, MD., who works with Gothard, says his Marine is a hard worker and that he is always willing to learn.

“He is quick to learn new things in this field. With all our operations here, he is not just learning one thing,” said Hilton. “We have to know everybody’s responsibility.”

Only a little over half-way through his first deployment, Gothard said he has already learned a lot in his shop.

“This will definitely benefit me with the experience and leadership skills I will need for the future,” said Gothard. “I want to become an officer in this job field, so hopefully this will be a good step in that direction.”

The 13th MEU and Boxer Amphibious Ready Group are currently on a deployment in support of regional and Maritime Security Operations (MSO).

In addition to BLT 1/1, the MEU is composed of its Command Element; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced); and Combat Logistics Battalion 13.

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