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Marines Rush to Beat Tattoo Ban

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Watch slideshow WEB EXTRA | Photo Slideshow»

This Sunday, a ban on new tattoos on certain parts of the body goes into effect for Marines. The deadline has San Diego area tattoo parlors buzzing with activity. KPBS Radio's Andrea Hsu reports.

What's banned under the new policy are large tattoos that would be visible when a Marine wears his workout gear. So tattoos on the forearms or biceps are out. So are tattoos on the lower legs.

Marine Commandant General James Conway wrote in a memo that such tattoos do not represent the traditional values of Marines, and could be harmful to the Corps' image. Oceanside tattoo artist and former Marine Todd Bain says he understands, but doesn't agree.

Bain : You know the Marine Corps is trying to clean up their image, but I think they're taking away a little bit of -- their Marines' last bit of self-expression.

Bain says he has a huge number of Marines coming in this weekend to get tattooed before the deadline takes effect. He added that if he has to stay late to finish them all, he will.

For KPBS, I'm Andrea Hsu.

(Photo: On left, Marine Staff Sergeant Jason Tuma.  On the right, Jerry Layton, tattoo artist for Body Temple in Oceanside.)

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