Follow us on Twitter
Like Us on Facebook

Check out over 60 tattoo photo galleries here!

We examines the significance of tattooing in the military.

Check out the history and meanings of Military Tattoos here

Currently, there are millions of Americans who are now, or at some time have been, members of the United States Armed Forces. Active duty military members, reservists, war veterans and retirees - they all share a camaraderie; each has belonged to a unit, platoon, battalion or brigade that has its own brave and illustrious past.

Many of these men and women have chosen to commemorate their military service and pride by getting their own unique military tattoo designs.

According to Samuel M. Steward, author and Ph.D., "The popularity of tattoos among the armed forces was greatest in the Navy, with the Army second, and the Marines third. Far down the scale was the Air Force..."

Military Tattoos / Patriotic Tattoo ideas at Tattoo Johnny

A Long And Colorful Tradition

Staff Sgt. Stephanie van Geete Army News Service
October 2, 2009, The Fort Gordon Signal

Tattoos and the military have a long and colorful history. Modern pop culture credits the Navy with introducing the art of tattooing to the United States in the early 1900s, when Sailors returning from distant lands displayed their skin-art souvenirs.

Although the times have changed, the military’s love affair with tattoos has not. Today, it seems, you couldn’t throw a rock into an Army formation without hitting a Soldier with at least one tattoo.

"I would say, across combat arms especially, probably a good 90% of everyone has a tattoo," said Staff Sgt. James Campbell, a tattooed infantryman and platoon sergeant with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.

While styles and themes vary greatly depending on the tastes of each individual, there are definite trends among Army tattoo enthusiasts, with a large number of tattooed Soldiers sporting Americana and military-themed ink. That might not seem surprising until you consider that very few civilians walk around with their company’s corporate logo permanently etched on their skin. ... Read the complete article here


By Heath Druzin, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Sunday, July 12, 2009

MUQDADIYAH, Iraq — Flag-draped hearts, flame-licked skulls, the names of fallen friends — in the U.S. military, tattoos sometimes seem almost required.

For Iraqi troops, though, tattoos — often a sign of a stint in prison — are taboo. The Iraqi army has passed a rule forbidding them, requiring soldiers with pre-existing tattoos to remove them..

In a country where laser removal is either unavailable or impossibly expensive that means painful options. Some soldiers opt for a surgical procedure where doctors scrape off the inked skin and cauterize the wound. Other, more cash-strapped troops, have resorted to pouring battery acid over their tattoos, an option that can cause gangrenous wounds and leaves grisly scars.

One Iraqi lieutenant, who declined to be identified by name, lauded the rule.

"When we’ve got somebody who’s got tattoos on his body, that means he’s been in jail, that he’s a bad guy," he said. "How can he be in our army?"

It’s a sensitive issue for the Iraqi army. When a soldier sat down for an interview about his upcoming tattoo removal, two of his superiors hovered over him and told him how to answer until... Read the complete article here


The Free Lance-Star Publishing Co. of Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA
New Marine Corps policy on tattoos is a farce
Date published: 6/3/2007

RECENT PRESS coverage of the decision by Marine commandant Gen. James T. Conway to further restrict the types and locations of tattoos that Marines can have exposed a leadership flaw within The Few, The Proud.

The policy, which went into effect April 1, prohibits large tattoos below the elbow and knee. It is designed to stop Marines from getting large "sleeve" tattoos.

In the words of Gen. Conway, "Some Marines have taken the liberty of tattooing themselves to a point that is contrary to our professional demeanor and the high standards America has come to expect from us. I believe tattoos of an excessive nature do not represent our traditional values."

Whose values? Gen. Conway's? His comments indicate that he is a man on a mission to force his own "traditional" values on the Marine Corps as a whole--and that's unacceptable, especially at a time when our nation is at war. Read the complete article here


By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Marines who are thinking about getting ink done should check out the Corps’ revised tattoo policy.

According to a Marine Administrative Message released Tuesday, the Marine Corps' new policy on tattoos bans "sleeve" tattoos that are visible when Marines wear their PT uniforms. Such tattoos cover most of Marines' arms or legs. Read the complete article here


Visible tattoos or brands on the face, neck or head are prohibited. Tattoos or brands on other areas of the body that are prejudicial to good order and discipline are prohibited. Any type of tattoo or brand that is visible while wearing a Class A uniform and detracts from a soldierly appearance is prohibited. See all details here

Navy OKs more tattoos
Latest guidelines stricter than Army's
By Lisa Hoffman

WASHINGTON — Now hear this: The U.S. Navy has opened vast new stretches of skin to needles and ink.

Essentially erasing a previous rule that no more than 25 percent of a particular body part could be tattooed, the brass has now deemed virtually the entire chest, back, belly and behind to be acceptable canvasses for artistic decoration or personal expression. Gone, too, is the prohibition against wearing more than five tats. Read the rest of the article here

Find One Online
By Rob Colenso Jr. - Staff writer for Marine Corps Times

It happens like clockwork every payday weekend — the tattoo parlors in military towns fill up with troops who have a few hundred dollars in their pocket and the itch for new ink.

The one thing many of them are missing? An idea of what they want as their next tattoo.

Trouble is, the selection isn’t always so hot at the local tattoo shop. With four walls and a few ratty binders’ worth of tattoo flash to choose from, there’s always the risk that you might end up with artwork that many others before you have already had inked on their bodies.

So unless you’ve got a budding artist in your barracks who you can bribe with a few cold ones to whip up a custom design for you on demand, a quick Web search could make all the difference between ending up with something standard or something truly epic.

 Read the rest of the article here


By Senior Chief Journalist (SW/AW) Bill Houlihan, Navy Personnel Command Communications

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John C. Harvey Jr. released a message April 21 clarifying the Navy’s regulations regarding tattoos, body art and/or mutilations and dental ornamentation.

The message underscores Navy policy that already prohibits any body art deemed prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale or of a nature to bring discredit upon the naval service.

"This is directly tied to the public appearance of our personnel," said Rear Adm. Gerry Talbot, director, Military Personnel Plans and Policy Division, Chief of Naval Personnel. "How we look in uniform, how we represent our Navy and our nation should be something we consider on a daily basis, on duty or off."

Navy policy stipulates that any tattoo/body art/brand that is obscene, sexually explicit or advocates discrimination of any sort is prohibited. Administrative separation could result for personnel disregarding this guidance. More

Associated Press

ELWOOD, Ind. — A man whose tattoo led the Army to reject him as a recruit has learned he can join the service after all under the Army’s newly revised tattoo policy.

Cory Davidson recently got a call from the Army informing him that the neck tattoo that had threatened to keep him out of the service is not a problem under the revised policy.

Davidson, 21, said he was delighted when he got the news Jan. 23.

"I had this huge smile on my face," he said.

Davidson was 19 when he met with a recruiter in July 2004 to discuss joining the Army.

At that time, recruits could not have tattoos visible above their uniform. Davidson said the recruiter told him to have his neck tattoo — two inch-high Japanese characters that mean "brothers" — removed.

Davidson, who lives in Elwood about 40 miles northeast of Indianapolis, was unaware that Army policy prohibits recruiters from telling would-be recruits to have a tattoo removed to improve their chances of being accepted. So he spent $1,000 on ink cover-up and laser removal sessions to try to erase his tattoo.

It was faded through still visible, but he nonetheless got the go-ahead from five different officers at the Indianapolis Recruiting Battalion to ship out.

Once he got to Oklahoma’s Fort Sill, however, officers there didn’t agree. They sent him home, saying his neck tattoo violated Army policy.

Since then, Davidson had been fighting to get back in, taking his story of television stations and newspapers.

Up until the end of December, Army officials were standing firm.

But Steven Lawson, a public affairs specialist with the Army recruitment battalion in Indianapolis, said a nationwide policy change dated Jan. 20 now permits certain neck tattoos. It applies to everyone in the Army — not just new recruits.

"All tattoos that are on the neck that are not vulgar, profane, indecent, racist or extremist are authorized as long as it does not extremely degrade military appearance," Lawson said, reading the new policy.

He said isn’t sure what led to the policy change, but doubts that it is related to Davidson’s case.

Davidson is now planning to finish out the semester at Ivy Tech Community College, where he’s studying criminal justice. In May, he said, he’ll join the Army again and be eligible for full recruitment bonuses.


Check out this huge collection of Marine Corps tattoos.