After 56 Years Syracuse Recruiting Legend Calls it a Career.
By Jacqueline Wren and Mark Burns, USAREC, Syracuse Recruiting Battalion
May 29, 2014
At 83, Frank Motolo was finally ready to retire last summer. Then the federal government issued a hiring freeze, which would have prevented the Syracuse Battalion from filling his replacement. Being a patriotic American and not wanting to impose hardship on the battalion, Motolo volunteered to stick around a little longer, but now he’s calling it quits. At 84 Motolo officially retires June 2, after 35 years of service as a civilian, which followed a 21 year Military career that ended in 1968.
A Korean War Bronze Medal recipient, an infantryman with the 3rd Infantry Division, personnel specialist and family man, Motolo’s name is inseparable from Syracuse Battalion history and legacy.
Frank is one of only a handful of USAREC employees who have proudly proclaimed in their daily duties “Join the People Who Have Joined the Army,” “This is the Army,” “Be All You Can Be,” “Army of One,” and the current “Army Strong.” He has made the transition from jotting notes on the backs of napkins and business cards, through the use of the legendary USAREC 200 card, to his current desktop computer.
Motolo is known at the battalion for his love of pranks and his willingness to help anyone in need. The resident jack of all trades, Motolo has held many positions with the battalion, including civilian reserve recruiter, civilian personnel officer, personnel support specialist and his current job as the facility manager.
“He’s very professional – a task seeker. If you give him something he will get it done,” said Isaac Alford, Motolo’s supervisor for the last four years. Frank’s professionalism and dedication to the Army was most recently demonstrated by his decision to put off his retirement for a year as the Battalion was struggling with the impact of sequestration on the ability to hire replacement employees.”
His past supervisors feel the same way. “Sincere concern for field recruiters,” reads one evaluation. “When I look in Webster’s dictionary under loyalty, I expect to find (see Frank Motolo),” reads another.
What convinces someone to spend the majority of their career in a place like Syracuse? As Motolo tells it, “Syracuse is centrally located, you’re right near everything. You’ve got nice lakes and so forth. I’ve had a good life here”
Though he has spent the majority of his life here, Syracuse is not Frank’s original home. Born in Hartford, Conn., Motolo joined the Army in 1947 when he was just 17. Ironically, he chose the Army over the Navy because of the Army’s shorter enlistment requirement. He decided to plant roots here in Syracuse after his 1962 assignment serving as the active Army advisor to the Liverpool Army Reserve Center. When he retired in 1968, before the Vietnam War, he spent 10 years working for Cappy’s of Syracuse, a building company.
Unable to stay away from Soldiers for too long, Frank returned to military service as a civil service employee in 1979 when the battalion adjutant at the time asked him to return as one of USAREC’s first civilian Army Reserve recruiters. This began his 35 year career as a member of Syracuse recruiting team.
“When I was a Reserve advisor I knew a lot of people and that helped me when I became a recruiter. We had high missions in those days. A couple of months I had missions of five or six people, it was a lot of people, but it worked good – I enjoyed it,” said Motolo.
His dedication to serve not only his country but also his fellow Veteran is apparent when coworkers and supervisors speak of him.
“I think many people here over the years owe a part of their success to him. Frank would make recommendations as a civilian personnel officer for bringing civilians who had served here as Soldiers back here to work,” said Alford.
Six current senior battalion staff members were welcomed and initially inprocessed by Frank dating back to the early 1980s. Several of them stated that they wanted his job when he retired – he outlasted them all.
One person whose career trajectory has been directly related to the relationship with Motolo is Terry VanArsdale, the battalion information management officer. During Motolo’s Reserve recruiting days, he recruited VanArsdale who has served as a Soldier or civil servant ever since. Their relationship as recruit and recruiter grew strong because of Motolo’s commitment to helping VanArsdale succeed – he helped him find a unit, get promoted and assisted him in navigating his way to a Reserve recruiter position in the battalion.
“No less than seven months after first meeting him, I was accepted and ordered to active Guard Reserve status as a Reserve recruiter,” said VanArsdale. “I looked to Frank as my advisor and mentor. Never did he turn me away, or blow me off if I had a question or problem. He continually advised me on promotion opportunities, or how to keep my head in the game.”
“I always joke that when I put Terry in it was a month that I had a mission for one CAT 4 and a waiver.” jokes Motolo. “I remember putting him in Liverpool’s drill sergeant unit in 1981, he went active Guard Reserve, active Duty, he made master sergeant and he came here as a civilian recruiter – and it’s good.”
Terry remembers it slightly different. “Don't let him kid you. I was a 3A grad prior service – easy recruit!”
Syracuse Battalion Commander Lt. Col. H. W. Hugh Darville counts on Motolo for his institutional knowledge and wisdom.
“Frank was key in this battalion’s history, and instrumental in the planning and execution as we transitioned from recruiting stations to our current center configuration dealing with the challenges with closures and relocations.”
Ever humble, Motolo doesn’t seek out any attention for his legendary accomplishments in the battalion.
“There are wonderful people here; had it been any different I could have left years and years ago,” said Motolo, who is looking forward to continuing to work for his son in the car business during his retirement. “I’m not really retiring; I don’t want to quit working for good. They say there’s only one main event to look forward to when you do that, and I’m not ready for that.”
When speaking to people about their much-loved coworker Frank, his sense of Humor comes up over and over.
“I remember during an IG inspection Frank played a prank on one of the evaluators with the ‘1000 year old rattle snake eggs” that sit on his desk,” Alford remembers. “When the springs scared the guy, he jumped back and almost fell! We laugh about that guy to this day, and it happened three or four years ago.”
“I’m going to miss being here. I enjoy working with a lot of good people – a lot of good people,” said Motolo.
The feelings of those who have worked with him are definitely mutual.
“Through all the years, all the wars and conflicts and ups and downs, Frank has been the steady Eddie,” said VanArsdale. “I hope I have lived up to his example. His guidance and friendship are and always will be invaluable to me.”