Marine Corps Cracks Down on Tattoos

The United States Marine Corps is getting tough on tattoos. Starting April 1, 2007, Marines were no longer allowed to have tattoos, large or small, from their elbows down or knees down.

Marines have always tried to set themselves apart from other military forces and the new order was put in place in hope of setting their standards even higher.

"With that tattoo, people will know they were in the Marine Corps," Malcolm Cherry said.

Cherry fought in Vietnam. He said earning the title Marine is so difficult, most get tattoos in the name of pride and others in remembrance of a fallen comrade.

"When they earn that title of Marine, only one-third of people that sign up actually become Marines," Cherry said.

After you earn that title at graduation you get a gold Eagle Globe and Anchor, people want that on their skin.

Cherry said the new policy is aimed at pulling in the reins on tattoos and holding onto the Corps standards.

"There would be no new tattoos below the sleeve line or above the neckline," Cherry said.

Cherry also said that's no steep order for a Marine, as the consequences of not taking the new order are tough.

"They would not promote you because of that tattoo and also require you to leave the service at that designated time," Cherry said. "They will probably still get their tattoos, but have them in their concealed places."

Cherry's is concealed, although he got it was before the new order came out.

"Most Marines my age who still respect the name Marine, have tattoos," Cherry said.

Cherry didn't get one at graduation nor did he get one before he went off to war.

"We could never find one we liked," Cherry said.

At 50, Cherry decided it was time to get his permanent Marine marking: a colorful Eagle Globe and Anchor so people will always remember him as a Marine.

Marines who already have tattoos from their elbow down or knees down won't face any disciplinary action. All Marines must have their art documented by July 1, 2007.