Under the Radar

13 of the Worst Tattoos in the Military


Tattoo and military culture often goes hand-in-hand, but some troops have gotten some subpar ink over the years.

WATM asked troops over social media what the worst tattoos they had ever seen, and we received plenty of submissions. Some respondents sent in images over Twitter or Facebook, while others just described the offending artwork.

Luckily, WATM has a resident artist in our own social media manager O.V., who went ahead and drew up recreations of what some of these terrible tats probably looked like. So, without further ado, here are the worst of the worst in military ink using real imagery and artist representations (some responses are edited for clarity):

1. The infantry spelling fail:

infintry tattoo

2. The spelling fail of Semper Fi, short for the Marines motto of Semper Fidelis: One respondent said a Marine had “Semer Fi,” while another said, “Smeper Fi is by far the worst.” It can’t be that hard to spell, Marines:


Artist representation of this monstrosity.

3. “‘Only the dead have seen the end of war’ — But it was in Arabic, along his collarbone. Which is convenient for anyone who wants to cut off his head, because it’s like ‘cut here’ instructions.”

4. “My brother got a sword with a ribbon that said ‘fly or die.’ He was an aviation electrician, never on flight status, who got out as a PFC.”

5. The Army nametape with the Marine Corps camouflage pattern:

army tattoo fail

6. “No joke, we get a 1-day pass for Family Day in the middle of basic training. My battle buddy gets this absolutely MASSIVE tattoo, shoulder-blade to shoulder-blade, that says ‘WARDOGS, Echo 1-50 Infantry’ between two growling Rottweiler heads. It was our basic training platoon callsign. When the drill sergeants found out, they changed the name of the platoon to the Mad Dogs for the rest of the cycle.”

7. Then there is this contender for terrible post-boot camp tattoos:


8. “Naval compass that read ‘North West South East.'”


Artist representation of the world’s worst compass.

9. “National Guard spouse with cross pistols on her upper back captioned with the words ‘MP Wife.'”

10. “Had a 60mm mortar man get 0342 tattoo on his arm” (if you don’t get it, a Marine Corps mortar-man’s MOS is 0341.)


Artist representation of the terrible typo.

11. “Tattoo of an elephant. Below the belt. Trunk was what you’d think. Saw it with my eyes. Wish I hadn’t.”

12. “When I was in Benning for jump, some mouth-breather got ‘AIRBORNE’ across his upper back in old English (Sublime style). He got kicked out a few days later for some incident out in town, and of course – isn’t airborne.”

13. The most hardcore guy in Supply:

supply tattoo



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