Marine Corps bans big tattoos below the knee and elbow

posted at 8:25 pm on March 28, 2007 by Allahpundit

Also spitting, swearing, and “fisticuffs” unless they follow Queensberry rules. Semper Fi tattoos will still be tolerated provided they show Tinkerbell spelling out the motto with pixie dust.

Lame.

“This is something I love to do,” said Cpl. David Nadrchal, 20, of Ponoma, who made an appointment to get an Iraqi flag and his deployment dates etched onto his lower leg. “The fact I can’t put something on my body that I want — it’s a big thing to tell me I can’t do that.”

Nadrchal said he is unsure whether he will re-enlist: “There’s all these little things. They are slowly chipping away at us.”

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway announced the policy change last week.

“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,” he said. “I believe tattoos of an excessive nature do not represent our traditional values.”…

Tattoo artist Jerry Layton at the Body Temple Tattoo Studio in Oceanside said he was booked up with Marines rushing to beat the deadline.

“These are guys that are dying in the war,” Layton said. “They can fight, but they can’t get a tattoo? It’s ridiculous.”

Exit question: Sure, a man with a one-inch butterfly tattoo on his forearm can take out a sniper’s nest in Fallujah. But can he enjoy it?

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Comment pages: 1 2

I was speaking from experience when I said

When you are in the Military, you ARE government property

When I was in the Navy (in the late 70′s) I went out with a couple of Marine friends and ended up with a tatoo on the inside of my ankle. During a dress inspection I WAS wrote up for DEFACING GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. Nothing really happened over it except I wore dark panty hose and no more tatoos.

ChrisIansNana on March 29, 2007 at 11:11 AM

crap still haven’t mastered the quote thing

ChrisIansNana on March 29, 2007 at 11:12 AM

Tattoos are tacky.

Connie on March 28, 2007 at 11:32 PM

My tatoo is cute

ChrisIansNana on March 29, 2007 at 11:17 AM

Pics or it didn’t happen.

Kai on March 29, 2007 at 11:43 AM

I also wouldn’t have put the ban in place during a period of war.

E5infantry on March 28, 2007 at 9:20 PM

There has to be a reason for this ban to happen now….

tormod on March 29, 2007 at 12:03 PM

Do you mean like the tone of that is snarky?

Quite. I never said we all lost the ability.

James on March 29, 2007 at 12:17 PM

Just a thought, but could this be because of the number of gang members and wannabe gang members that are now in our military? I remember Michelle posting about gangs in army and how they’re vandalizing tanks, buildings, etc.

wherestherum on March 29, 2007 at 12:36 PM

Good order and discipline are the key words. The AF put certain restrictions about tatoos in place a couple of years ago. No different than hair has to be short, tapered and not faddish.

Inevitably someone will get a tatoo that is plain silly and may regret it later. Imagine a crusty old Drill Sergeant trying to be taken seriously while he has a smiley face tatooed on his head. One of the top enlisted AF chiefs about blew a gasket when he went to the mideast and some airman had a porpoise tatooed on the side of his head.

Much ado about nothing IMHO. They can get all the tatoos they want after their time in service is up. Whether at war or not is not the issue — e.g. one has to be 21 to drink. Military leadership is responsible for the safety and well being of its young troops and sometimes just has to enforce some rules that while not popular are prudent. A professional looking force is the desired goal.

Me? I always wanted to get a tatoo of a winking eye on the back of my head if I went bald. Thankfully I still have hair.

Bradky on March 29, 2007 at 1:32 PM

When I was in the Navy (in the late 70’s) I went out with a couple of Marine friends and ended up with a tatoo on the inside of my ankle. During a dress inspection I WAS wrote up for DEFACING GOVERNMENT PROPERTY. Nothing really happened over it except I wore dark panty hose and no more tatoos.

ChrisIansNana on March 29, 2007 at 11:11 AM

Wow. That must have felt strange.

After reading all the comments, my mind has changed several times over. In the end, I agree that it’s a little lame but completely understand the policy.

Though as others have stated, it is beyond insane that they would do this while a war is in progress. If the tats are causing a problem, make the soldiers cover up. They do it at fast food places all the time. It could even work as an incentive to keep soldiers from getting tattoos that show.

Esthier on March 29, 2007 at 2:03 PM

Though as others have stated, it is beyond insane that they would do this while a war is in progress. If the tats are causing a problem, make the soldiers cover up. They do it at fast food places all the time. It could even work as an incentive to keep soldiers from getting tattoos that show.

Especially if they’re stationed down south in August.

Slublog on March 29, 2007 at 2:08 PM

Wow. That must have felt strange

Yes, it was embaressing especially when he bent down and took a closer look at my ankle but not as bad as the girl with a hickey on her neck. If I remember it right the Lt’s comment was “I won’t ask about the mark on your neck but I don’t think you were working on a car or vaccuuming. It is unbecoming of the uniform and what it stands for.”

I can understand the military wanting a sharper image, they’ve taken a lot from the press and from these anti war pukes. What a lot of people don’t understand is when you put a uniform of any branch of the Military, it’s not JUST a job it’s who you are. You stand taller, shoulders are back, your chest is out (some more than others), you are a part of something that goes beyond just yourself.

ChrisIansNana on March 29, 2007 at 2:38 PM

I can understand the military wanting a sharper image, they’ve taken a lot from the press and from these anti war pukes. What a lot of people don’t understand is when you put a uniform of any branch of the Military, it’s not JUST a job it’s who you are. You stand taller, shoulders are back, your chest is out (some more than others), you are a part of something that goes beyond just yourself.

ChrisIansNana on March 29, 2007 at 2:38 PM

Nicely put.
Each service has some set of core values they impress on its members. AF is Integrity First,Service before self and excellence in all we do.

I’m sure the other branches have similar phrases and impress them on the troops from day one.

Bradky on March 29, 2007 at 3:12 PM

Okay, one more Jarhead who has to take his shot at the policy. I ran up against this problem during my transition from active to reservist, so I think I can talk to it. The Corps started unofficially frowning on tattoos below the knee and elbow YEARS ago (around 2001 or so). Part of the reason is, as one commenter mentioned, these tattoos keep Marines out of B billets (Drill Instructor, Recruiter, Embassy Guard. Not a problem with Combat Instructors, though) and without a B billet, it is hard for enlisted Marines to get promoted to higher ranks. Also, in the Old Corps (stop rolling your eyes, fellow Devil Dogs), the most prevalent tattoos were military related and more or less, well, chaste. With the growing popularity among 18-21 year olds for half and full sleeves of largely nonsense or even downright offensive stuff, the policy makes a little more sense. The major problem comes when it is enforced as a “zero tolerance” matter, with no leeway for the more traditional military tattoos. I have a Marine Corps Emblem with “USMC” underneath it on my upper arm. During both my screening for Recruiting and my reenlistment to the reserves, it had to be officially documented and photographed. My good friend who had a letter to his mother on his forearm was denied the ability to be an Embassy Guard.

In general, I tend to think ink for the sake of ink is kind of dumb. Gen Conway is the Commandant and has the right to make that kind of rule if he thinks it enforces good order and discipline. However, I believe in the old Marine Corps maxim that in tattoos, just like in everything else, “there is a waiver for everything.” At least, there should be.

Militant Bibliophile on March 29, 2007 at 5:00 PM

Since I’m not a Marine, my only comment is …

AP thanks for the pic!

;)

Texas Gal on March 29, 2007 at 11:24 PM

Comment pages: 1 2