Tattoos have been used as a status symbol for warriors, dating back as far as five thousand years ago. The Ancient Greeks were known for marketing their warriors as a sign of strength. During the revolutionary war, sailors tattooed personal identifiers on their skin to avoid being illegally drafted by the British Navy.
During the Civil War, early tattoo artist Martin Hildebrant traveled the battlefields and decorated the troops with various, patriotic designs. Even Marine Corps legend, Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, is legendarily known to have an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor tattooed across his chest
After world war 1, it was found that an unbelievably high number of 90% of U.S. Sailors were tattooed. This was a period of time where sailors would use their body as a historical recording of achievements in their careers. For instance, a sailor would get a shellback turtle for crossing the equator or a golden dragon for crossing the International Date Line. Seeing a tattoo on an older sailor means they likely sailed through a very specific spot at a very specific time.
Tradition is alive and well in today’s Military. Sailors still regularly get tattoos for their Naval achievements. Marines get Eagles, Globes and Anchors on their first leave. King’s Head Tattoo has a well-established history of tattooing military men and women in San Diego. If you are thinking of getting some ink to commemorate a milestone in your military career, contact us to make an appointment today.