Shocking Fact. Tattoos are ending the careers of Marines in an era when even the loss of a limb in combat can’t do that. Now, I don’t know who that Marine Sniper is pictured above, but I surely hope he doesn’t have any tattoos under those sleeves or he is totally going to miss that shot. The Marine Corps Times recently highlighted the case of Sgt. Daniel Knapp, a rifleman with 2/8 who was denied reenlistment because of his cross rifle tattoos that he had placed on his forearm. So just like that, a Marine with multiple meritorious promotions, a combat valor award, and even a command endorsed waiver for these tattoos was denied his ability to lead the next generation of Marines and slay the next generation of evil. However, I am simply here to tell you that Marines with Tattoos make better Marines. Case closed.
Look, do I have scientific evidence that Marines with Tattoos make better Marines? No I don’t. However, to me, a Marine with a Marine Corps tattoo just seems right. It is tradition that goes back further than most can remember. I actually didn’t get one until I got back from Iraq and when I did, a simple USMC on my shoulder was more my style. I thought about a large bulldog with huge testicles gouging out the eyes of a Haji, but as it turns out, I am just the more subtle type of Marine. Yet, I have to be honest with you. It felt good to finally get one. It felt like I was embracing the tradition of the Corps and it was a fairly motto event for me. Bottom line, Marines and Ink go together. For goodness sake, look below at the First Marine most of us ever knew!
Now, if you don’t have one, you might scoff at that idea. However, I say go get one and talk to me then. Go and get a simple USMC such as I, or perhaps an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, or I guess you could even go get a Terminal Lance Tattoo if you want. However, when you get the ink on your skin, believe it or not, it does something to you as when you were a 17 yo boot, you looked up to the hard charging tatted up Marines of days gone by. For me, it made me even more proud of the brotherhood. When I die and come back as a zombie, the whole world will know I am a Marine zombie and I can honestly think of nothing more terrifying that a Zombie Marine.
Yes, the rules, I know, I know, the rules. He got tattoos on his forearms and that is against the rules. The Marine Corps is about order and discipline right? Look, I am not here to challenge the authority of the Marine Corps. As an institution, they have been fighting and winning wars since Tun Tavern and I won’t necessarily question the way they go about it when it comes to good order and discipline. Besides, if I was going to challenge any rule, I would ask all Marines everywhere to put their hands in their pockets in protest of truly, the dumbest rule in the entire Marine Corps.
That being said, times change. Discipline is always valued, but times change. Tattoos are not viewed with the same social stigma they once were. In fact, I am actually typing this article in a Starbucks right now where the barista is tattooed from head to toe. Granted, this tatted up guy looks just as likely to lick my face as he is kill anyone, but honestly, I am not even shocked by it. Nor is anyone else and this is the guy probably dipping his tongue ring in our coffee when we are not looking.
Tattoos are normal in today’s society and according to the Times article, even the army is recognizing this. Look, I’ll give the Army its props, but so help me if the Army becomes a more tatted up force than the Corps I will cry over Chesty Puller’s grave with the tears squeezed from R. Lee Ermy himself. Yes, Marines should follow the rules. Most of them anyway, ok maybe break a few here and there. I am still a little sad I never got my article 15 street cred. But let’s end this article with the real tragedy.
Baby Faced Marines
I’m sorry world, but I would rather go to war with Gunny Highway, (aka Clint Eastwood for you non-military types) any day over a fresh faced, just hit puberty, clean shaven boot NCO. As the wars wind down, the number of combat hardened veterans will eventually dwindle and we need not speed up that process. The world is too dangerous a place to be sending Gunny Highway’s home in favor of the Major Powers of the world(that was the prick Major in Heartbreak Ridge).
So I say again, a Marine with a tattoo, even those that push the boundaries of allowable represent more of what is right with our Corps than what is wrong. They embrace the tradition and bonds forged in war just as much as cutting a cake once a year with a sword. Marines and tattoos have always gone together. It is the rest of society that is just now catching up to us in this regard. Let us pray the Marine Corps doesn’t hold on to values long gone and discharge the very men we need to train the next generation of warriors. Marines with tattoos on their arms do not lack discipline or professionalism any more than myself when I put my hands in my pockets on a cold winter’s day. Either we are about winning wars or we are not, but only the future will tell. Semper Fi.
So, in honor of Marine tattoos, show em if you got em. Post every Military tat you got in the comment thread. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard tats. Let’s see what you got.
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