Black Hawk County

Capt. James W. Selzer




James Selzer, 22, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Selzer, 174 Lovejoy avenue, will leave for Des Moines Friday en route to join the U. S. army air corps at Pine Bluff, Ark., as a cadet. James, who had his physical examination in Cedar Rapids, Ia., in January, took the civilian pilot training course at Iowa State Teachers college. He will enter the Army school of aviation on his arrival at Pine Bluff.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, April 23, 1941

Waterloo Youth Made Second Lieutenant, Sent to Florida Field

James Wylie Selzer, 23, of 174 Lovejoy avenue, is one of 17 Iowans who have accepted appointments as second lieutenants in the officers’ air reserve corps, the War Department announced in Washington D.C., Wednesday.

Selzer, the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Edd Selzer, has just been transferred from Ellington field at Houston, Tex., to Morrison field at West Palm Beach, Fla., his father reported Wednesday. Selzer was graduated at Houston two weeks ago.

Young Selzer obtained his preliminary pilot training in a group from Iowa State Teachers college, Cedar Falls, and later went to Pine Bluff, Ark., and from that point to Randolph field in Texas.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, December 24, 1941 (photo included)

“I’ll Be Glad when You Are Dead, You Rascal You,” Latest (and Only) Tune on Jungle Path in New Guinea
Lieut. James Selzer Tells of Native Life on “Island of Opportunity.”

“I predict great things for this island of New Guinea after the war because there is a fortune to be made from it,” wrote Lieut. James Selzer of Waterloo, who is stationed on New Guinea as a flier with the army air corps.

In a letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. Edd Selzer, 174 Lovejoy avenue, Lieutenant Selzer told of his experiences with the natives of the southwest Pacific island.

His letter follows:
The last time I wrote I gave you the dope on the girls in Australia and what they wore. If I do the same thing this time, you’ll have a short letter, for the girls here are all black and wear only a grass skirt.

This is pretty country and very interesting but still very primitive.

I was coming back thru the jungle the other day and as I went from one native village to another, managed to pick up quite a bit of information on how they lived.

Houses on Stilts.
Their houses are built on stilts to get them out of the jungle mud and to keep them cool. They split logs to make a floor and weave mats for the walls from palm leaves.

Some of the mat designs are very pretty indeed. In fact, they would make an interesting print for a summer frock, but that’s neither here nor there now.

The roofs are made of grass and are so well laid that they don’t leak at all, even in the heaviest of rain.

For heat they build a fire right on the floor of the hut and to keep it from burning thru the floor, they first lay a base of mud in a kind of hollow bowl surrounded by grass. When the fire has accumulated too much debris, they just move it to another corner of the hut.

They sleep on the hard floor with only grass mats to pull over them at night and seem to throw off the jungle diseases with no more trouble than we rid ourselves of a slight cold.

Build Hut, and Sleep.

Their day is divided up between the building of a new hut and sleep. They seem to eat very little and will work only enough to feed themselves for the time being.

Strangely enough, they speak rather good English, although they are at a loss when the words get beyond their simple vocabulary. More can be done with signs.

They are all very friendly and love to have their pictures taken, especially the kikinas (unmarried girls.) The natives have helped many of us when we have been shot down and have had to come back home thru the jungle.

The food they offer is not always pleasant but it is edible and will keep you alive for awhile. A trip thru the jungle is a real experience for unless you hit a jungle trail, it’s practically impassable.

Hundred Yards an Hour.
I spent two hours trying to go 200 yards the other day. Under foot it’s very wet, for the sun never gets thru the trees to dry it up.

It’s very dark in the jungle all the time. In fact, it’s hard to even get a picture for the lack of light. But for all of that, it’s pretty. The colors are typically tropical and the sounds and smells all go to make this experience thrilling and exciting.

An amazing thing happened the other day. A bunch of us visited a native village where the women were making grass skirts and mats. They wear the grass skirts all the time and change the number of them to suit the occasion.

Around the hut, the native woman wears only one skirt. However, if visitors or strangers arrive, she puts on another plain skirt over the first one and then a brightly colored one on the outside.

But if she plans a journey, she wears seven skirts, taking them off at night to sleep on and use for covers. Not so dumb at that, is it?

Well Educated Host.
While we were in this village a native who had been educated by missionaries was our host. Here is the surprise—his English was as good if not better than mine. He spoke with an almost Harvard accent.

After showing us around, he took us back to his hut, turned on the radio and clapped his hands once. Another native appeared with a tray and set it down. Our host then proceeded to serve us tea and crumpets on some China that would look very nice in any American home. There was a tablecloth on the table and the silverware was as shiny as a new dollar.

We discussed one thing and another, some of which was over my head, and ended by telling us of the Russo-Japanese war and his theory of the outcome of the present conflict.

Rose from Nothing.

I must confess that I came away with a swimming head. That black boy must be 100 percent smarter than me, for he rose from nothing and knows more about much, than I do.

Maybe you can’t understand how really surprising this is but if you could see most of these blacks and see how simple they are and how crudely they lived, you would realize why I felt like Aladdin and his lamp.

By the way, this native had a beautiful rose garden and also grew all kinds of vegetables. On a large tree behind the hut, beautiful wild orchids grew.

Maybe this will give you a very small idea of how interesting and different this country is. There is always something new.

If a man could stand to live here, there’s a fortune to be made from this country, but right now it’s rather desolate. However, we are opening it up like it’s never been opened before.

I predict great things for this place after the war.

Wild and Horrible Sound.

Just another surprise—I was walking down a jungle path the other day and suddenly from right ahead of me came a wild and horrible sound, which turned into “I’ll be glad when you are dead, you rascal, you.” Some native boy and his girl friend were squatted by a phonograph of ancient vintage and a still older needle, and were playing the one record for all its worth.

Always something different, that’s New Guinea.

I guess that covers the jungle situation for the time being but I’ve only scratched the surface of the tings that might be said of this island.
[end of letter]

Lieutenant Selzer took a civilian pilot training course here to ear his pilot’s license on Jan. 1, 1941. He was called to active duty with the army air corps on May 1, 1941.

He had attended Iowa State Teachers college, Cedar Falls, for one year and Sioux Falls (S.D.) college for a year.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, January 24, 1943 (photo included)

Life with the army air forces in New Guinea and the South Pacific was the subject of a talk given Wednesday evening by Capt. James Selzer of Waterloo, now visiting here on leave, before students at the army air forces training station at Iowa State Teachers college, Cedar Falls. Captain Selzer, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Edd Selzer, 174 Lovejoy avenue, arrived here Saturday for a holiday leave, his first Christmas here in three years.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, December 23, 1943

City Has Five on Hero List From Pacific

Among those listed in an Associated Press dispatch Monday as flying heroes of the second year of war in the southwest Pacific theater were five Waterloo airmen and a sixth from Cedar Falls.

On the Waterloo list were: Lt. Churchill T. Williams Lt. James P. Hagerstrom Lt. George R. Fisher, Jr. Lt. Robert E. Ludtke, Capt. James W. Selzer.

The Cedar Falls flier honored was Capt. Roy W. Olsen.
Lieutenant Williams is holder of the Silver Star for gallantry in action. Lieutenant Hagerstrom has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism and extraordinary achievement.

Lieutenants Ludtke and Fisher and Captain Selzer were listed as receiving the Air Medal for meritorious achievement.

Captain Olsen’s award was the Legion of Merit.

The story relates that more than 110 medals have been awarded to Iowans in the southwest Pacific theater, with the recipients accounting for 11,000 hours of combat flying.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, April 17, 1944