Curtis William Otwell
Colonel, United States Army
William Otwell was born on 1 November 1875 in New Madison, Ohio. The Otwell
family later relocated to Kansas, so Curtis journeyed to West Point and
the class of 1898 from the great Plains.
Graduating as an Infantry officer, he served with the Shafter Expedition in Cuba and participated in the Battle of El Caney and in the siege of Santiago. He was awarded the Silver Star Citation for gallantry in both of these engagements.
He then was assigned to several posts in the US and finally, in 1900, was sent to Alaska, where he assisted in the construction of the post at Fort Liscum on Valdez Bay. In the Spring of 1901, Otwell was reassigned to the Philippines, fought against the Insurrectionists on several different islands, and finally was transferred to the Corps of Engineers, doing harbor work on the island of Samar.
In 1903, Otwell was assigned to engineering duties in Portland, Maine, and remained on the East Coast until 1906. Then he went overseas to Hawaii, working on the fortification of Pearl Harbor and the improvement of Honolulu harbor.
Otwell became a Major in 1913 and was assigned to the War Department soon thereafter. There he worked to equip and train the engineer troops of the National Guard of the US. When war was declared on 6 April 1917, Otwell assumed command of the 104th Engineer Regiment, 29th Division at Camp McClellan, Alabama. He later commanded the newly formed 319th Engineers at Camp Fremont, California.
In September of 1918, Otwell accompanied this unit to France. For a brief time he was detached from the 319th and worked in the Office of the Chief Engineer, Second Army in Toul, France.
Following the war, Otwell was District Engineer at Vicksburg, Mississippi, working at Memphis and on the Arkansas River in Louisiana. He then transferred to the Chemical Warfare Service, moving to Lakehurst, New Jersey.
In 1921 he became the Chief of the Chemical Warfare Service but in July of 1922 was retired for disability. He then moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a consulting engineer on the construction of the Bay Bridge to Oakland. Colonel Otwell died on 11 August 1964 at Palo Alto, California. He was 88 years old.
OTWELL, CURTIS WILLIAM
DATE OF BIRTH: 11/01/1875
DATE OF DEATH: 08/11/1964
BURIED AT: SECTION 2 SITE 3521RH
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Posted: 7 September 2006