Chris, a U.S. Navy Veteran, got a caduceus on his right calf meaning medicine and warfare. This tattoo is used to distinguish medics.
Tyler says being a combat medic was one of the most amazing experiences of his life. He took so much pride in being called “Doc”. It was a badge of trust that he says he earned from the infantrymen. He swore he would get them back home to their families. He says he wanted to get something to honor that name, which he earned and wore so proudly. "Who doesn’t like a rad mustache to go with it!"
Dennis is a Navy veteran who served for 10 years. He says his entire right arm is patriotic. He's also in a veteran motorcycle club and loves helping veterans in need.
Mario Rodriguez (IG: @Rodjrtx)
"Being a Marine we are bred warriors. And being Mexican we have Aztec warriors. Why not blend the both. I added an EGA to the warriors battle shield. “I am not a warrior be aide I always win, but because I will always fight."
"I was in the Navy on board the USS Nimitz and wanted a cool tat to honor that and my wife and son."
Terry says this tattoo is the start of his tribute tattoo for his old unit in the air force, the 20th special operations squadron and the helicopter he was a gunner on MH-53 Pave Low. He says when it's finished "it will have a few more pictures and the names of the brothers who lost their lives protecting this great country of ours and a American flag background."
Blake says he got this tattoo to symbolize his first combat mission. "Urgent Fury 1983 - A lot of people forget and or don’t think of it as anything major but to those of us that was there, it was combat and it was real. I was on chalk one from 82 nd ABN DIV."
Zachary has a tattoo of his military working dog, Ux's paw print. They were deployed in support of OEF 13-14 with CJSOTF. While they had a successful deployment and he was credited with locating 10 IEDs, they returned and Ux passed away from cancer a few years later. Zachary plans on getting an additional tattoo with him as Cerberus guarding the gates to hell.
Jordan Leitsch (IG: @onelegwonder0311)
Jordan, a USMC Veteran, says he got the American flag on his leg a few weeks after he found out he would be losing his leg from his in-service injuries. He says it was a way to motivate himself and keep pushing forward.
Erick left the Navy almost 20 years ago and had been thinking about getting a tattoo that encompassed that experience. So with the help of an amazing tattoo artist, they came up with this, the anchor of course is Navy all the way, the octopus is one of the strongest and smartest creatures in the sea, the Latin saying translates into “The Empire of King Neptune “ which is on our shellback certificate when you cross the equator adm is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years, the four stars are loved ones that he has lost because stars are what sailors used to guide them, these people were guiding stars in his life and he wanted to remember them this way.
James spent 16 yrs in the Army as an MP and says he "really had nothing physically to show for it." So 3 yrs ago his ex son in law said he wanted to get him a tattoo. So he decided to get the MP Badge with his service dates tattooed on his left soldier.
Austin got the eagle, globe, and anchor to represent his time in the Marine Corps. He also got his dad's name who is also a fellow Vet.
Amy is not in the military but says her dad was USAF. "My Dad was in the Air Force. I got my tattoo for him, a month before he passed away. He never really liked that I had tattoos but he said this one was really cool and he loved it. I am very passionate about Veterans, they deserve the utmost respect and gratitude. I thank all Veterans for their service to our country."
Nick, A USMC Veteran got "Brotherhood is not by blood, it is by choice" tattooed on his right tricep in honor of the brotherhood he developed with other men in the Marine Corps.
Chris, a U.S. Navy Veteran, got these two tattoos while in the military. His wife's name on his right bicep and a swallow with his son's initials because he didn't know if was going to make it back from Iraq.
Beau got his whole neck tattooed as a tribute to his time in the Marine Corps.
Christian was in the Navy for 10 and a half years from 2005-2016. He was an un designated airman stationed in Kaneohe, HI. Marine Corps base Hawaii with VP-47. He struck Engineman and went to my first ship in Pearl Harbor, DDG 93 USS Chung-Hoon. After, he was stationed in San Diego on DDG 100 USS Kidd. He then went to NAS Kingsville and retired on February 19, 2016. He is currently working for Valero and is part of the Emergency Response Team in Wilmington California.
Gareth Ross (IG: @navigation_fitness)
Gareth says this tattoo means a lot to him. It’s a peregrine falcon who’s taken off his own hood and can see things clearly. He’s a swift warrior who can now see things for himself, and represents a soldier becoming a civilian in a positive way. He says this falcon tattoo was inspired by the song “Hoods on Peregrine” by the band Thrice."
Ramon says he got a tattoo of a red head pin up hanging a mortar round because he's a mortar man for the Army and the Virgin Mary to protect him when he went over seas.
For Brandon, his tattoo signifies his on-going battle with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. It’s a skull and a man trapped behind the eyes as if he’s in prison, meaning ‘your mind is your greatest prison.'
Rikki got this tattoo to represent all of the branches her family has served. "This tattoo has a lot of value to me as all the members of my family who was in the service have all passed and crossed the bridge. I just want to say to those who have family and friends serving, cherish them, show them you care and love them, hug them even when they don't want it."
John McKnight (IG: @longislandjack)
John served from 2011 to 2015. Basic/AIT was at Fort Leonard Wood. Then he went to Airborne school at Fort Benning. "Soon after that I found myself at Fort Bragg in "The Nasty." Me, my wife and 6month old son moved into our new home on base August 2011. Things between me and my wife started to get really bad towards the end of 2011. By February 2012 CPS was involved because of my wife's erratic behavior and actions that put our son's life in danger multiple times. Me and my wife separated. She and our son stayed on base in our house and my Commander put my in the barracks. The day after our son turned one years old we had a court date on February 15th 2012. The judge ordered that our son be placed in foster care due to my wife's behavior. He could not give custody to me because I was staying in the barracks. For the next few months I was fighting for custody of my son. During this time I received a tremendous amount of help from my battle buddies in "The Nasty." I didn't even have a car because my wife had it. One of my best friends drove me to social services every Friday for my supervised visit with my son. The amount of stories and things that happened would take a long time to explain. The reason for this tattoo is because I am blessed and grateful to be a party of "The Nasty." So many battle buddies helped me out. In April 2012, I was able to afford my own place off base (I was no longer able to live on base because of my wife). A few weeks later I was awarded full custody of my son and my wife has not seen him since her last supervised visit March 2012. This tattoo is a constant reminder of how lucky I was to have the support of "The Nasty." They helped me out during the toughest moments of my life."
Corey says all throughout his time in the Marine Corps, he was faced with hardships alongside his fellow peers. During his first year, a close buddy of his attempted suicide after he sought emotional support from Corey. Another friend from a different unit took his life not long afterwards. On his second deployment, he lost two more buddies at home a week apart from each other. Although outside his own peer group, he couldn’t help but to realize how big of a problem suicide is in the military. He says everyone he knows has known someone who lost their personal battle. "It’s heartbreaking, but my tattoo resembles the beauty of life through hard times and tribulations. The fight never stops, but we shouldn’t forget those who’ve lost their battle"
Justin Brant (IG: @jab_trd_socal)
Justin Brant says after joining the Marines back in 2001, he got his first tattoo in MOS school. He says it was cool as a young one…but he didn’t really like it and after a few years he ended up covering it up. A few year later he had some laser tattoo removal sessions to lighten the double tattoo. In the meantime, him and San Diego tattoo artist (IG: @terryribera) sat down and planned the tattoo out. "He actually texted me a few weeks later before the first appointment and had changed the design to something more in your face and dynamic. I was in love with the design! At this point in my career I had been on 7 deployments and seen over 30 countries with just about 16-17 years in service. 3 sessions later I was so proud to wear this new ink from Terry that represents who I am. I fully believe that even long after the military I’ll still be a Marine and hold that true.”
Robert says this ink started off with the chemical corp emblem his MOS 54B and the patch he wore while stationed with a svc battery for the 2/28 fa. The rest of the back is dedicated to his family and friends who served and fought on foreign soil — Both of his Grandfathers, his father and his best friend. He says what can't be seen is that both of his ribs are covered. One with his son's unit now and the other of a WW2 soldier with the caption "FOR GOD AND COUNTRY ILL END YOUR LIFE" ... A code he says he still lives by.
K.L.K (IG: @hautespartan)
"I have around 80hrs worth of tattoos on my body. All of it is in black and white. The only two images in color are the flag and a rose that symbolizes my mother.
Before my deployment I’ve asked all my loved ones without telling them why, “if you were an emoji or symbol what would you be.”
I went an got them all tattooed knowing that’s the only way I’ll be able to carry something of them with me everywhere I go. The positioning of this specific part is directly under my elbow and it is perfectly legible if/when my arms are open to the side and parallel to the ground.
Same as “king Leonidas” had at the final scene of “300” right before his death. As he “accepted death” and never surrendered or retreated. Now, in my civilian life... it’s actually a daily reminder that nothing is actually that difficult. After going toe to toe with the devil himself for 7 straight years my ink reminds me that it’s ok if my iced latte is not ready by the time I pull up to the store. Just as at the time the same ink reminded me why I cannot be late even for a fraction of a second."
Chris, a U.S. Navy Veteran, has a gypsy's head tattooed on his leg with his mother's name, Josephine.
Clifton got this tattoo when his best friend committed suicide due to everything that happened while she was overseas. "I myself am an army veteran and want her to live on with me forever and in the hearts and minds of people that knew her and got to love her like i did. She was such an amazing person with a heart of gold."
"I served in the USMC infantry from 15-19 and these two tattoos are my perception my service going in and coming out. The fallen angle on the left was my very first tattoo ever. I got it cause I was hiding from my drill instructors on Sunday going to church and the way they compared us to fallen angels instead of Spartans really resonated with me. Little did I know I was gonna spend the next 4 yrs wanting a fight that never came. I had seniors and super seniors that were combat vets and I respected what they did and just wanted to be like them too. We always got told never wish for war and I understand why but war is like a right of passage to us too. Just like Vikings scared of not going to Valhalla, I found the realization of ending my service not fulfilling this right of passage depressing. Every time I was thanked for my service or congratulated on my hard work I felt guilty cause I didn’t feel I was the man Everyone else thought I was. it ate at me and that’s what inspired the second tattoo. Cause now a days the marines of my generation have a different form of pain that comes from this lack of service. Personally I’m still coping with these feelings that I feel a lot of dudes don’t talk about cause how do you about having it easy but I hope that anyone reading this if they feel the same opens up that line of conversation with their buddies or a total stranger like me cause non of us are alone my at is @chrisviola611"
Daniel was in the Army Infantry 11b. So he got a cross with angel wings and psalm 23 verse 4 and 6. "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, your rod and thy staff comfort me and surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the lord forever." He says it’s fitting for him being infantry walking into battle that it be on his leg facing the enemy. He also has Athena, goddess of war and wisdom on his rib cage.
Nick Logan (IG: @nick_logan91)
Nick says the tattoo inside his bicep is a broken clock set to the numbers 11:11 to represent Veterans Day below that there are a series of headstones and one casket with a American Flag draped over it is a reminder to never forget them.
"I was stationed at ft Campbell 2000-2005 and I stepped on a land mine while deployed ... and got medically retired but my love for the military is still there"
Travis got this full-back piece to resemble his time in the military. He also got the words "All gave some, some gave all" dedicated to everyone who laid down their lives in service.
Gareth Ross (IG: @navigation_fitness)
Gareth says this tattoo was designed and inked by a former Infantryman himself. It is designed to combine parts of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge as well as the Infantry crossed rifles (a modern take on the crossed rifles).
"Army, 19kilo armor crewman ( Tanker )
1st 72nd armor Camp Casey, Korea
HHC 1st Brigade Ft Riley, Kansas
This faceless soldier tattoo with old glory is a tribute to every soldier fighting a battle within."
Jim got this tattoo to represent his time in the Army and honoring those he served with and made it back home.
Nick, a USMC Veteran got "For those I love I will sacrifice" on his chest to honor his time in the Marine Corps.
"I got my Eagle Globe and Anchor tattoo to remind me of my pride and the accomplishment from the first time I put on that uniform until I die. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a Marine! I cherish the brotherhood wherever I go and it’s a special moment to run into another Marine that you never met before and when they see this tattoo we instantly know we are brothers because we are cut from the same blood oath that brings us all altogether. SFMF’s"
William served from 1992-1996. 63T with Recovery Specialist. He did all his training at Fort Knox, then Germany and finished at Fort Irwin. He says he comes from a very proud military family. He even has relatives who have served since the Colonial days.
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Erryn says he ended up with a very large scar from his elbow to his wrist from a accident while he was stationed at camp kinser Okinawa japan. "What better than to cover it with a dog tag tattoo with my maiden name and a Semper fi."
Jordan Leitsch (IG: @onelegwonder0311)
Jordan, a USMC Veteran, says he got the American flag sleeve a few weeks after he found out he would be losing his leg from his in-service injuries. He says it was a way to motivate himself and keep pushing forward.
Lane says "the eagles head is to resemble a multitude of things, from staying sharp, to patriotic, to majestic. The uncle Sam’s skull is in reference to dying for what America stands for in the traditional sense. Freedom from government and being free people. Then design around the eagles head is more or less a design feature to tie them all together."
Rich Dierks (IG: @rich_Dierks)
Rich says he got this tattoo when his son was on leave from the Navy. "He’s been in the Navy for a year now and I flew him home to surprise my wife for Christmas. We decided that we wanted to go get ink together and I’ve always wanted a Navy tat to reflect on that part of my life. It means the world to me that he’s chosen to follow in my footsteps."
For Garry, his back tattoo represents the 6 combat tours he went on. The American Flag in the Eagles wing represents America and what he was fighting for. The POW MIA Flag in the Eagles other wing represents the Americans that were captured and the ones missing in action. The Bald Eagle represents our nation and freedom. The All Gave Some and Some Gave All banner represents everyone that fought in combat and the ones that never made it home. The words underneath are each combat tour he was on and the time he was there.
"I was one of four 249 Saw gunners. My combat name was Sgt Death. I was on point with my targets. I’d shoot that saw like I was shooting a M 16."
Nick Logan (IG: @nick_logan91)
Nick says the story behind his ink is to tell people his story. "I will always wear that EGA with pride and honor. The Cannon shows my job while serving."
Joshua got this tattoo to represent the 68 fallen soldiers he served with. The pully reminds him that they sacrificed their life in order for him to be here today.
Chris Lucas, a U.S. Navy Veteran, got an anchor tattoo with his father's nickname who was also a sailor.
Coast Guard Tattoo
This Coast Guard tattoo was done by tattoo artist @stevenalf on Instagram.
Stacy got this stick figure drill instructor which she drew one day on the drill field to represent her time in the Marine Corps.
Donovan says he earned the dragon during a deployment and the rose is for someone he lost during deployment. The skull was something someone he served with drew up. And the chest was a sigil for a clan of gaming he gamed with while serving.
Lane says this is a tattoo that was created for remembrance of those who he's served with and have fallen both inside and outside of the military, specifically a gentleman named lane Harris, for the battle cross.
Jim got this tattoo to honor fallen soldiers and those who are still missing.
Daniel says "The plot thickens" was thought of when him and his brother were in Afghanistan. He says every time they were up for days and something bad happened they always said “well can’t get worse” or “the plot has thickened” so when they got back they decided to get bro tattoos in remembrance of those awful days and nights.
Jamie got this tattoo as a memorial of him following into his grandfathers' footsteps. "This tattoo allows me to remember them and the lessons they taught me. I know they are with me for the rest of my life."
Jordan Leitsch (IG: @onelegwonder0311)
Jordan, a USMC Veteran says this sleeve tattoo was a Father’s Day present. His oldest sons middle name “Echo” and his companies logo being the Spartan helmet with Molon Labe. Then his youngest middle name being “Everest” "Having 2 kids under 6 is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, especially missing a leg. But at the same time it’s absolutely beautiful!" He says his wife in the sky is the “Little Dipper” from a birth mark she has and the Odin’s ravens repressing him flying over head watching over his family.
"I wanted to get dog tags but did not want to put my info on there so instead I put the Hull numbers of my ships, the anchor represents the Navy and the flag is for America."
Jimmy served in the Marines from 2005-2009. He was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. His tattoos represent his patriotism, service to the country, freedom, and some of the things he's done. The bombs represent breaching operations. He has a battlefield cross to memorialize those who didn't come home.
Craig was with Aco 8/101st aviation regiment Armament ply during Desert Shield/Desert Storm and that experience has been with him his entire life. "There is almost a day I am not reminded of those days and the brothers and sisters I served with. I have always wanted a 101st airborne tattoo and last year it came true. I used my desert as my inspiration. I then used the torn skin style because I always feel that who I am underneath. I am proud to say I am a “Screaming Eagle.”
Nicholas served in the Marine Corps infantry. His tattoo commemorates those who made the ultimate sacrifice and keeps him motivated when he look at it, unlike brothers of his. He says he gets to see the days that they don’t and every day is a chance to seize an opportunity.
"Semper Fi Devil Dogs!"
Leo Neal (IG: leo.neal)
Leo, a Marine Corps Veteran, who served 4 years, says he got this tattoo because he lost a few friends who he served with. "I’ve also lost friend who didn’t serve due to suicide. I just want people to know I’ll always help in whatever way I can.
When people see it, they’ll know I got their back."
Ryan, a U.S. Navy Veteran says he got this piece to reflect on his time enlisted as a Gunner's Mate and his time as an Officer. He used the Officer crest and replaced the anchors with cross cannons. The blue accent is a tribute to his time at sea.
Rudy is a Navy Veteran. He says he got these two tattoos to symbolize being a SAR swimmer and the the skeleton frog to memorialize Operation Red Wing.
For Daniel, the skull at the top represents the infantry soldiers who gave their lives and are looking over the living soldiers while in battle and at home, which are the soldiers at the bottom. They also represent the brotherhood created while overseas and always having each other’s back. The background is the American flag which represents what they all fight/fought for and what they hold dear to their heart. As well as being a proud American. The "infantry" at the top just represents his job in the army and his pride for it.
Stacy got this tattoo one night after meeting a bunch of other women who also served in the Marine Corps. She said they got the word "Kill" on their left foot to symbolize the "kill foot" associated with Marines and to symbolize their sisterhood.
Ty says he got this tattoo of a Navy cutter to symbolize what life in the Navy is really like.
Jonathan says he wanted something different and hadn’t seen anything similar before. He says his artist had a good idea and they came up with this.
Always be kind, you never know what kind of battle someone is fighting on the inside."
Matt got this as a start to a service sleeve he is currently working on. It was actually a large coverup that he wanted to do. The idea was for a sleeve, to show off various parts of the Navy that he enjoyed. He says this was just such a cool design to coverup some terrible tribal he got as a young kid. His goal is to do my military sleeve with tattoo artists who were all former service members.
Brian Oliver (IG: ollie8551)
Retired Marine GySgt. 22 years active duty.
Adam says his tattoo signifies the 12 years he's served so far. He is still in the Army in "the reserves E-5."
Eric Rocha (IG: @rgersolidcpy)
"1st Bn 4th Mar 1st Marine Division Charlie company HELO raids! Not much of a story but had the best times with my bro’s and fast roping off birds was by far the coolest experience the marine corps ever offered me and nothing in the civilian world could’ve amounted to the experience led alone the brotherhood I made with the young men I know who served with me to this day."
Sherry says this tatoo was drawn by a mechanic in her unit after saving his life — She was a medic.
Matthew got this tattoo to represent his time in the Navy. "This piece means a lot because the navy helped me do and see things I never would have been able to by myself. This piece also has another amazing story because it was done by a Purple Heart recipient from Army/Marine Corp who helps take care of local veterans."
"My grandfather served in WWII, and I always admired him for that. Like a lot of WWII vets, he came home with quite a few tattoos. As he explained, we never thought we’d make it home, so it didn’t matter how many tattoos we got. One that always caught my eye was a chain on his wrist. He had seen it as a kid in someone and it was the first one he got when he was drafted into the army. Fast forward to me joining the Navy in 1999. I asked him to help me recreate the tattoo, as it was badly faded. It was the first tattoo I got upon entering the Navy, and the one I’m most proud of. It was what always connected us and I was always honored to tell the story. He passed away last year at 99. While I miss him, the chain around my wrist keeps me connected to him and always reminds me of the sacrifices he made so that I could be here today."
Steve Goho (IG: usmcgoho)
The arm tattoo I wanted because I love skulls and of course the dagger with the eagle globe and anchor was a symbol of my service. I wanted both to be together so made it look like the skull was blasted with the dagger.
The hand was one I wanted to have done as a more traditional remembrance of my completion of boot camp and love for my Corp. having the 2 as 1 reminds me everyday to work hard and make no excuses. Live my life as I lived in boot camp.
Beau got his unit logo tattooed. He says if he would've stayed home and not chose for structure, he doesn't know where he'd be right now.
Casey Wieckowski (IG: @afflfdvictoryvhcfitec2309)
Casey says he got the the flag as a back drop because he loves this country and is proud to have served. The Statue of Liberty with a have skull face is for liberty or death. The soldiers grave is for all his fallen brothers and sisters, and Saint Michael the protector because he is the patron saint of the Air Force and first responders, "me being a former Air Force firefighter. I also have we the people on this arm, 3 percenter, firefighter cross, Spartan helmet, and come take them in Greek."
Aaron Jackson (IG: @tacoman1832)
Aaron Jackson, got this tattoo to symbolize veteran suicide awareness. He says he's been struggling a lot since coming home from Afghanistan. "I was to the point of not wanting to be here But I've had great friends standing by my side pushing me through the hard days." Aaron says he wants others to know they aren't alone either even if they think they are. "It's 1 team, 1 fight, and we can win battles together cuz 22 a day is way to many."