Military Tattoos

Soldier memorial tattoo design


In the 1700s, French soldiers returned from the South Pacific sporting brand-new tattoos. This practice continued until 1861 when Maurice Berchon, a French naval surgeon, published a study on the potential medical complications of tattooing. As a result, French officials banned military tattoos. But soldiers can now rejoice, because tattooing is now safer than ever, and members of the military can sport their new tattoos with pride.


Tattoo Regulations In The Military

Once limited to the parts of the body covered by long sleeved shirts and pants, the army now allows tattoos on the backs of the hands and on the back side of the neck. The primary requirement is that they are not “extremist, indecent, or racist”, per Army Regulation 670-1.

There’s only one reason the United States Army relaxed its restriction on tattoos. They realized that they were turning highly qualified individuals away over their skin art. One caveat is that the military still reserves the right to determine what is in good taste, so it might be a good idea to run it by your commanding officer before actually having needle put to skin. There also remains a limit on how many tattoos can cover any area. There are no sleeves or Japanese suits for soldiers, at least for right now.


Military Tattoo: eagle head and USMC


Military Tattoo Art

Military tattoos show love for your country, and pride in your unit. There's always been ribbing between the branches regarding who is better, stronger, and smarter. Military tattoo designs can proudly display your branch of service and unit.

Military designs represent and, later in life, commemorate a meaningful and rewarding part of life. Some would say that they glorify the military and that’s probably true. Obviously, the people likely to get this type of tattoo are those who are happy and proud to be part of the military.

A common theme for army tattoos is two rifles or swords lying across each other, forming a low-profile X. You can also choose to have medals, unit patches, or awards permanently inked as a testament to your loyalty, your pride, and your sacrifices.


Military tattoo: eagle combined with globe, anchor, US flag and Semper Fidelis


US Army Tattoos

Limiting our observations to US army tattoos, military tattoo designs commonly represent a branch of the military:


Navy tattoo design


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Navy Tattoo USN Tattoo Navy Tattoos
  Navy tattoo design  



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Warbirds tattoo Air force tattoo Airborne tattoo
Airplane tattoo on a man's arm Fighter plane tattoo Death from above tattoo on a man's arm
USAF tattoo on a man's arm



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Marine Corps Tattoo Marine Tattoos Bulldog Tattoo
Marines Tattoo   Marine with a Semper Fi and lion tattoo on his back


Dog Tags

The dog tag is a steady symbol of the military. Tattoos of dog tags, called meat tags, can be designed around any other pattern that appeals to you. They can be blended with the folded flag, a memorial of someone that was lost in combat.


Dog tag tattoo


The chain they ride on can be folded into a heart, or adorned with barbed wire. Wrap them around a cross or praying hands to show your close connection with God, or for an extra angel watching over you in the field. Dog tag tattoos are simple and yet powerful reminders of what soldiers are willing to sacrifice, and that they are willing to make that sacrifice with pride.


Memorial Tattoos

Memorial tattoos can show dates of service, or can mark the passing of a friend that was cared for. A simple name displayed with a cross or heart shows that the person was loved and lost. Missions, moments, people, and even ideas can be memorialized through tattoos. That “All Gave Some, Some Gave All” is a fact that no one will dispute.

Memorial tattoos allow you to remember the sacrifices that are made, and to help ensure that anyone seeing your tattoo also remembers. Memorial tattoos don’t have to be about a specific event or person. They can be constant reminders of the sacrifices that are made every day by soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines alike.


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Military RIP tattoo Memorial tattoo for a fallen soldier Military memorial tattoo
Freedom isn't free tattoo on a soldier's side Military memorial tattoo design For the Fallen memorial tattoo


Skull & Grim Reaper Tattoos

Skull tattoos are also becoming increasingly popular among servicemen, especially with the constant fighting and wars that are currently being waged. A soldier serving overseas in hot spots throughout the Middle East knows that each morning when he waked is a blessing, and that it could be the last sunrise he will see.


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Army skull tattoo and prick wire Army skull tattoo USMC skull tattoo
Soldier skull tattoo Military skull tattoo design Military skull tattoo


 Lots of Skull Designs Here...


This fact of life makes skulls and the grim reaper popular tattoo choices. Death is a fact of life for the military, and sometimes taking a lighthearted look at it through a tattoo can help make that burden easier to carry.


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Grim Reaper Tattoo Grim Reaper Tattoos Death Tattoo
Grim Reaper tattoo design Grim Reaper tattoo Grim Reaper tattoo design



Arabic Writing Tattoos

Some soldiers who fought in one of the wars in the Middle East choose to get a word in Arabic as a tattoo. The word "Infidel" is a popular choice.


Soldier with a tattoo of the Arabic word for Infidel


 Get your Arabic Translation Here...



Here's another gallery with military tattoo designs:

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Flag raising tattoo American flag tattoo on a man's upper arm Tank tattoo
Shock and awe tattoo design Machine gun tattoo American soldier tattoo
Freedom eagle tattoo Perseverance tattoo on a soldier's arm M-4 Tattoo on a soldier's arm
Soldier with a tattoo of a religious quote Soldier with a memorial tattoo on his arm Freedom is never free
Loyalty tattoo on a soldier's upper arm


Celebrities With a Military Tattoo

A list of celebrities with military tattoos (do you know more? Let me know):


Bomb tattoo




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