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Q&A with Seminole veterans OB Osceola, Curtis Motlow

In honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, the Tribune spoke with two Seminole veterans from different eras.

OB Osceola lives in Naples, not far from Ochopee where he was born and raised. Curtis Motlow, who grew up in Oklahoma, moved to the Hollywood Reservation in 2012 and has served on the Seminole Honor Guard since then.

OB Osceola

When did you serve and in what branch of the military?

Served in 1959, I was in the Army in peacetime. I volunteered out of Ochopee, where I went to school.

Where did you do basic training?

When I left Ochopee they put me on the train in Miami to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for eight weeks. They trained me in heavy artillery. After 8 weeks I was sent me home for week and a few days, then they sent me for a second 8 weeks to Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso Texas. When I left El Paso they shipped me to Camp Hanford in Washington state. I was there for the rest of the time.

OB Osceola (Photo Beverly Bidney)

Basic training was over. We got heavy artillery to support the mountings with the missiles set up on it. I was there a little over a year when orders came for me to go to Germany. While I was waiting to go to Germany, my oldest brother died. He supported my mom and dad, who were elders. My dad signed the papers to get my help to support the family. So I went back home, I was a private. I didn’t finish my four year term, I was in the service for a little over a year.

When you came back home, did you miss being in the military?

I really liked the military. They teach you to take care of yourself. It was an excellent experience.

When I was home, I helped my dad build chickees. That’s what we lived on and made a living doing. When my dad and
mother died, I continued building chickees.

What do you think of your time in the military?

It was short and sweet, but I had a good time. I use that experience when I’m home; they teach you to learn how to work. I was working anyway, that’s why I didn’t have any problem being in the service. It was a good experience.

When did you retire?

I don’t remember the year, but it’s been a few years. [Osceola retired in February 2018.] Everything is going good. I don’t build chickees, but I fiddle around with my barn. I build some tables and cut the grass and help out the family.

Curtis Motlow

What branch of the military were you in and when did you serve?

I was in the Navy from 1992 to 1995 and worked in the valve shop on a repair ship. We went to Cuba and Greece, Crete specifically.

Why did you join?

I joined as a family thing really. My dad was in, my brothers were in and I joined up as well.

What were some of the highlights of your service?

Mostly just getting out of a small town [Hugo, Oklahoma], being other places, meeting people. The travel was the most
exciting part about it. I made friends that I don’t think I would have ever met, I met many different kinds of people. That was very exciting too, I wasn’t expecting to meet as many good people as I did.

Curtis Motlow (Photo Beverly Bidney)

What were the highlights of traveling with the Navy?

Seeing Cuba for the first time was a new experience for me. I had never been out of a small town and never even left the shores of America, so that was a pretty big experience. Crete was a very rewarding experience.

What advice would you give to young tribal members about serving in the military?

They have to make the decision on their own. But if they do decide to go in it will be an experience they will never forget, that’s for sure. Whatever they put into it is exactly what they will get out of it. They can enjoy a long, fruitful career if they choose, or just have a short experience like I did and still have a great experience with it.

What was one thing you wish you would have known when you joined?

The experience mostly, I didn’t know how much I would be getting out of it. I had a great time and would encourage young people to try it.

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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