Sgt. John Gizzie, U.S. Army Balloon Squadron 

John Gizzie was born 3-SEP 1892 in Killwinning Scotland.  His father was Peter Gizzie (1864-1937) and his mother was Mary Bogel Gizzie (1871-1955).  John arrived from Scotland to Boston Massachusetts on the passenger liner “Murnidian” on 1-MAY 1912.  He was 20. John registered for the draft on 5-JUN 1917 and later enlisted on 7-OCT 1917 while living in Columbus Ohio. He attended “Provisional Recruit training” at Kelly Field Texas until 1-NOV 1917.

After his training at Kelly Field, John was assigned to Company C 3rd Balloon Squadron School at Fort Omaha in Nebraska until 31-DEC 1917.  John was listed as a Corporal on 10-DEC 1917. Hot air balloons and dirigibles were considered high tech during World War I. Never had flying equipment been used so effectively in war, and the United States was playing catch up. By World War I, artillery had developed to the point where it was capable of engaging targets beyond the visual range of ground-based observers. Positioning artillery observers on balloons, generally at altitude, a few miles behind the front lines, allowed them to see targets at greater distance allowing the artillery to take advantage of its increased range.

After a period at Fort Omaha, John was assigned to 7th Balloon Company AS (Aviation Section) until 8-MAY 1919.  Corporal John Gizzie left for France from New York on 18-JAN 1918 aboard troopship No. 501.

John was listed as Sergeant on 1-JULY 1918 in the US Army Balloon Squadrons.   John soon found himself on the front lines during World War I.  

John carefully recorded his time in service.  In the months ahead, we will add more information from his records.  For more of John’s story, click on the link below:












Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.