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Sergeant First Class Harold O. Nicholls

Recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, 1918
Sergeant First Class Harold O. Nicholls volunteered to serve as an observer with the 7th Balloon Company on multiple occasions. Observers rode in the balloon’s basket at a height around 1,500 ft to observe artillery fire and communicate adjustments. Balloons were filled with flammable hydrogen gas which could burst into flames if even a small amount of oxygen entered them. They were also stationary and large, making them tempting targets despite ground defenses.

On three separate occasions, SFC Nicholls held his position while under enemy attack, narrowly escaping when his balloon caught fire.

On the third occasion he was with a fellow observer and refused to bail out until his companion had first escaped. Fortunately, they both survived.