Serving in the military is a moment in your life where you create lifelong bonds with those around you who are fighting for your nation, or peacekeeping areas around the world that are vulnerable to violence and discord. Those who have experienced this may want military tattoos to symbolize what they’ve been through.

General Military Tattoo Designs

Some tattoos can be associated with a particular branch of the military, but there are other designs and symbols that can be worn with pride by anyone who has a military background.

Dog tag tattoo designs are a great idea for a military tattoo, for any branch of service. Although they tend to be most associated with the army. Some soldiers who will be deployed in hotspot areas might choose to have information from their dog tags permanently tattooed on their chest. This way, they can be easily identified should they lose their tags.

The malta cross is another symbol for those in the military. It is associated with the Sovereign Order of Malta and it is usually worn by medics or other military hospital personnel in any branch of service. 

Tattoo designs which incorporate a bird known as a swallow are another popular tattoo for those who went overseas in the military as it represents a soldier’s return home. It was also believed that if a soldier died, then a swallow would carry their soul to heaven. 

Tattoos that have flags or completed training symbols

Depending on what country a soldier might have served in, the national flag is almost always included in order to show their pride in their nation. It’s usually a large part in the background, with additional symbols included in the center or on top of the flag. In minimal designs, the flag can be depicted as a flat lay, but some people like to add a bit more interest by having it appear “waving” on their skin. A flag also works really well as part of a sleeve. 

Tattoos with certain phrases

There are many different phrases that military personnel might include as the focal point of a tattoo design, but one that comes to the forefront is the phrase “Death Before Dishonor” which is usually seen as a part of many army tattoos. 

This shows an extreme dedication to their country and service. If you ever see someone with an army tattoo that includes this phrase, then you can rest assured that they take their military service seriously and with a lot of pride attached. There is a great chance that they have served in multiple tours and have most likely chosen to dedicate their lives to that service. 

Right of passage in some instances (Airforce, Navy, etc.)

Back in the 1500’s, symbols such as anchors became a huge symbol for the British Navy after a victory over a naval fleet. Since then it’s caught on as a significant navy tattoo symbol. In general, the anchor symbolizes stability, loyalty and protection. In the military, the anchor has become a symbol of devotion to the U.S. Navy.

In the AirForce, some popular AirForce tattoos include wings, jets and the AirForce logo. Wings are often the types of tattoos associated with this type of military service. A lot of pilots choose to combine wings with the AirForce logo. Fighter jets are also a popular theme in the AirForce, and they are usually shown with flames incorporated into the tattoo design. 

When it comes to the Marines, some popular marine tattoo designs include bulldogs, crash, fire and rescue emblems, or the abbreviation “USMC”. Bulldogs are the unofficial mascot of the marines. It originates back during World War II, when the Germans started calling the Marines ‘devil dogs’ because of the fierce way that they fought. So, over time the bulldog came to represent the Marines and the name stuck. 

The crash, fire and rescue emblem is a very popular tattoo design among marines, since they are extremely proud of their service. The look of the emblem can vary, but it usually will resemble a Maltese cross and will have each individual word inked onto the east, west, and north compass points of the shield. Usually an eagle and a globe will be incorporated into the design. Most Marines will choose the classic tattoo of the Old English lettering of “USMC” as a tattoo, or as the base of a design for a larger tattoo. It will usually be enhanced using a United States flag or banner. 

Want to Learn More About Tattoos and Piercings?

Visit Sage Tattoo and Art Gallery in Ottawa where we have some of the best tattoo artists in the city who can work with you to design the military tattoo to suit your time in service. If you’ve got any questions about finding the right tattoo artist or tattoo shop, don’t wait to contact us. We would be happy to answer any of your inquiries.