Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko (Ernie) Service number: RA 15042699. Ernest G. Bilko, known to one and all as Ernie, was a master sergeant who would go to any lengths to beat the system, be it by conniving, bluffing, cheating, gambling, lying, fenagling or any other devious device known only to him. No sharper operator ever existed than Bilko, no one more capable of fleecing his fellow man or forcing even the top brass at the Pentagon to quake in their shiny boots. No one was beyond or safe from a Bilko operation - he could smell money, and he had all human life worked out, being capable not only of predicting the thoughts of others but calculating how long it would take people to think them. But Ernie Bilko had two crucial weaknesses: like all gambling addicts, he could never resist one last bet, and, down, deep down, deep deep down, resided a conscience that prevented him from making the final, ultimate move which would garner him his life's goals: wealth and physical comfort. For all his efforts, Ernie would never win.
Ernie ran the Motor Pool unit at two US Army camps, firstly at Fort Baxter, Roseville, Kansas and latterly at Camp Fremont, Grove City, California. Nominally the posts were run by Colonel Hall but Bilko was really in charge. He was the man who made the posts work with clockwork precision with the mere click of his fingers. The colonel would have loved to have got rid of Ernie Bilko, but he recognized immediately that Ernie was an essential part of the status quo that granted him, mostly, an easy life. The colonel and his wife, Nell were sublimely manipulated by the arch-flatterer Bilko - in fact they were putty in his hands
The Motor Pool 'soldiers' dreaded Ernie's superlative array of ideas because they feared, with great foundation, that it would mean parting with their pay-packets to fund the schemes. Yet even though the men knew what Ernie was all about, they still took comfort from knowing where they stood with him. They knew he would always protect them from the harsh realities of army life.
When in the presence of this gambler, sharpster and promoter you must, in his own words, Protect yourselves at all times.
This is one of the greatest rebels of them all. A fast-talking con man in army flannels, with a razor-sharp brain. Completely incorrigible but somehow irresistible. He is described by a Lawyer, in the show entitled, Where there’s a Will as; "A special type of genius who can outfox anybody. A master conniver. An ingenious fenagler. A man with honey on his tongue and larceny in his heart." Bilko describes himself as; "Nearsighted, fifteen pounds overweight, fallen arches, starting to lose my hair." Gambling is an obsession with him; in fact he learned the game of poker at three years of age!! Ernie taught Emily Gribble the Bilko Shuffle – now she is a top card dealer in the high rolling world of the Las Vegas casinos. Loves the company of women - enjoyed an on/off relationship with Sergeant Joan Hogan for over 3 years. It was on when she put up with his lies and conniving and off if she didn't! He has served in New Guinea, Mariana's Island, Kabuchi Island, China, Saipan and France. A New York Yankees fan since he was 10 years old, he joined the US army in 1941. He even invented something to help play craps at night................luminous dice, of course! When Ernie was inducted into the Cherokee Indian tribe, Ernie was known as Bald Eagle. Ernest G. Bilko - some say the G stands for greedy!! Otherwise nothing. He can smell money and even count a huge wad of it, to the dollar, with only a flick of his wrist!! Ernie Bilko has turned up in many guises. Like, Agent X43, Pierre Boudouir, J. Malcolm Bilko and Chester Caulfield. Made up, temporarily, to a Lieutenant at Mariana's Island in 1943. That order was not rescinded until 1957 - which meant he was owed back-money to the princely sum of $20,000. During World War II, Sergeant Stanley Sowici was stuck in a foxhole under the boiling sun. Bilko, under machine gun fire, crawled through terrible terrain to give him a glass of water. Due to getting unwanted letters in the mail he once, unbelievably, considered changing his name to Woodrow Hopkins.
Relations: Clem, Swiffington (aka Swifty), Great Aunt Minerva
It was Bilko's commanding officer, Colonel Hall, who best summed up the character: "Ernest Bilko was the only American soldier during the entire conflict of World War II to capture a Japanese prisoner - and hold him for ransom!"