Harold Hilbert was a Lt and a co-pilot on 42-78645 (piloted by John Kreitz).
The picture was actually taken shortly after they got to Italy.
He flew the first two December 1944 Brenner pass missions but was held out on the 3rd day.
There is a crewman holding a whiskey bottle. Mr H says they all got a bottle on alternating months and it was his (Mr H's) month.
He gave his bottle to the guy in the back.
Hilbert and crew were flying from Maine to North Africa to Italy in
September 44. They stopped in the Azores to gas up, etc. Some of his crew
(enlisted) got friendly with some more crewmen their and were playing cards.
One of the men with Hilbert's crew was doing card tricks or something like
that and of course there was gambling involved. During this period, the man
doing the tricks was apparently caught doing the tricks a little too well
and was in trouble. Another of Hilbert's men ran to Hilbert and told him
their man was fixing to get killed. So Hilbert told the man to go back and
he would be right behind...(paraphrasing now) Mr. Hilbert: I told him that
when he saw me coming through the door to call ATTENTION! as loud as he
could. Really holler it out. And when I came through the door, the man
hollered ATTENTION!!, and the guys that were on top of our man all came to
attention. I told our man "What are you doing in here...Didn't I tell you
to clean that plane up earlier" and the man said "Yes Sir" I told our man
"Well you get your ass over there and get to work right now and if you don't
get that plane cleaned up right quick, there'll be hell to pay" and at that,
our man RAN out the door and back to the plane. Later on, I told him that
as payback, I wanted him to teach me how to gamble. He said, Lt., I can't
do that...you'll just end up in trouble like me and I'm NEVER gonna do that
again. He really thought he was fixin to get killed!
Hilbert also helped pull gunnery targets at Eglin AFB for some of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Information provided by Harold Hilbert, 720th Squadron