Originally posted August 2020. This one wasn't one of my favorites pieces when I wrote it, but it sure was popular with you folks. As always, lightly edited. Enjoy.
The E4 Mafia is a real thing. The best example is Radar O'Reily from the show 4077 MASH. Nothing would have ever gotten done without him.
The E4's in the military (all branches) are really the ones that get shit done. They have been around long enough they know more than the people below them, and they have figured out ways to get around things. They also seem to know a lot of people, in a lot of units, who are uniquely placed to get shit done.
When the E4 Mafia is helping you, they know someone who can get you in at the dental clinic, or take your CQ duty for a few bucks. Maybe they know a guy at payroll who can sort out your problem.
When the E4 Mafia is out to get you, life gets worse. Maybe your orders come through late, or get changed, or your promotion gets held up for some reason. They can be devious.**
I was inducted into the E4 Mafia after Desert Storm. I got Specialist while deployed. After my medical leave was up and I got sent back to Ft. Bliss, I got slapped with a medical profile until my foot healed and I could run again. (Which sadly never happened.) The funny thing is you aren't actually inducted. It just kind of happens. You are either in the Mafia or you aren't. No ceremony or anything. You just find yourself in a position where you realize you have actual power as an E4, and you go "Holy shit, I'm in the Mafia now." This is soon confirmed when people start coming to you for "favors."
So now I'm not allowed to go to the field or deploy, so I'm just a brokedick. However, I'm now an E4 in a support role. We called me the "Operations and Security Specialist" which was a bullshit job title we made up. "We" being me, the 2nd LT platoon leader and another E4. Bullshit title, but a real job, and I put it on my resume after I finished college. It actually got me some job interviews. Lol.
The usual routine was this: "SPC BikerJedi, we go to the field in a week. We are short some equipment." I'd get a list of what they needed. Mind you, this was always last minute, a week or less notice. So I had to work fast.
Anyway, I'd grab a couple of those newly minted Privates that missed the beach tour in Iraq, and I'd check out a five ton truck from the motor pool. Then I'd drive over to brigade headquarters. Not battalion, because people might recognize me. No one really knew me at brigade. We would back our truck into a loading dock at the brigade warehouse, then walk in and help ourselves. No one looked twice at a specialist with a combat patch a clipboard yelling at some E1's and E2's while loading stuff up.
This happened a few times. "SPC BikerJedi, how did you find x y and z?"
"You don't want to know, sir." The fact that we stole everything from the Colonel was never mentioned. He actually had a brigade formation after the third or fourth time I did this where he bitched us all out and swore eternal hellfire and damnation on the piece of shit that was stealing from his fellow soldiers.
And I stole every fucking thing. Tents. Cots. Heaters. Folding tables. Anything short of a vehicle or weapon was fair game for us if the LT said he needed it. The funny thing was, I'd drive back to the unit and have the Privates unload the stuff into our warehouse. And EVERY SINGLE TIME the NCO's in the area would walk away, finding something else to do. Because they knew I was in the E4 Mafia doing some Mafia shit, and they didn't want to get involved. So everyone pretended to not see anything while we robbed Brigade blind every few months.
You had to steal from your own parent units. If I walked into the 3rd ACR area wearing an 11th ADA BDE combat patch and unit patch, I would have been spotted. So you blend in and steal from the higher ups. Cuz fuck those guys - my boys in Alpha Battery need this gear.
You ready to ETS (leave the service) and you don't have all the gear you were assigned? No sweat. Bop over to my room. Don't ask me why I have THREE sets of TA50 (gear), but I always had extra pieces for those who needed them.* "How did you get all this extra stuff?"*
"You don't want to know."
I turned in my best set to CIF so I could clear division and gave the rest away. I could have sold it in the pawn shops, but that was illegal and I didn't want to get in some kind of trouble on my way out. So my battery mates were lucky enough to inherit the other two sets. (CIF is a Central Issue Facility - A big ass warehouse stocked with surly people who issue and take back things like duffel bags, backpacks, winter gear, Kevlar helmets, sleeping bags, etc. They are VERY picky about what they take back and don't give a shit what they issue.)
I don't remember ever really being thanked too much - the E4 Mafia just kind of exists and is there to both serve the junior enlisted and to make the life of officers rough if they get in the way. But I was OK with that. Even though I couldn't go to the field anymore, I could make sure that my battery was squared away.
To steal from The Mandalorian: "This is The Way"
Addendum: Part of the reason the E4 pin in the Army is called the "Sham shield" is because it seems like if you are in the E4 Mafia, you are off doing Mafia shit and not doing your duty most of the time. You are "shamming" - not doing your work. Which, to be honest, is done a lot in the E4 Mafia.
OneLove 22ADay Glory to Ukraine
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