United States Marine Corps
Item Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division
July 12, 1950 - July 11, 1954
I have an Marine Corps bulldog up here, wearing a hat, and down here there's a flag that says USMC underneath it. They're kind of faded now, I got them some time near the end of 1950. While getting ready to go to Korea, we went to San Diego to pull liberty and there's a tattoo parlor. It was like peer pressure -- everybody was going to get them because we were Big Tough Guys going to Korea. We were all 17 years old. They wouldn't put them on both arms, they said "There's a story going around that if you're captured and they see these tattoos, they'll cut off your arm and make lamp shades and stuff out of them." I don't know if that was true or not, but that was what he was telling us. That's why both of mine are on the same arm. I don't know how true that is, he might have just been trying to scare us a little bit.
I had my 18th birthday on the ship on the way to Korea -- not that I remember it, because I was sea sick.
My brother [who was in WWII] never had any tattoos. In fact, when I came home from Korea on leave, I got my ass kicked by him because I'd gotten tattoos.