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Generation Ink: Sailors are using their body to prove commitment to Navy

11:29 PM, Apr 30, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's a permanent decision and colorful addition Josh Schultz has made 11 times over. 

"It's just a bond with the tattoo and having something on your body that actually means that much to you," said Schultz.

So with the stroke of the hand and prick of the needle, the NAS Jax sailor is adding a new tattoo to his body and proving there's nothing more meaningful than the U.S. Navy and the changes it's made to his life.

Four years ago, Schultz was working a dead-end job in the fast food industry and witnessed a number of his friends arrested and put in jail. 

So one year after graduating from high school, Schultz enlisted with the U.S. Navy.

Schultz, now a E-4 Navy machinist, is preparing to re-enlist for an additional three-year stint.

"I do about 2, 3 tattoos a week and 80 percent of them are Navy," said Mike Jarrell, a Jacksonville tattoo artist.

The connection between sailors and their ink runs deep, with many sticking to traditional anchors, swallows and pin-up designs popularized by Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins.

A old Navy sea dog who finished his naval stint in the 1920s, Collins was made famous for his American designed tattoos with Asian influences.

Jarrell has dedicated his entire body to his work and is covered in tattoos with full legs, a full stomach and full back.

A growing number of sailors and young people are turning to tattoos. One in five adults now has a tattoo, according to a 2012 Harris poll, as the negative stigma once associated with tattoos fades.

"The fact that he has his uniform hanging here at all times and has respect for the military," said Schultz.

Most of the tattoos Jarrell has are Navy-influenced, because like the majority of his clients, he spent eight years in the U.S. Navy.

It's the former sailor's appreciation for the military and tattooing that has allowed Jarrell to continue to make his mark as a seaman on a new generation of sailors dedicating their bodies to the U.S. Navy.

"Tattoos cannot be visible through the white uniform and cannot be on the head, face, neck or scalp regions," according to the U.S. Navy. 

"Items on the lower arm can be no larger than the wearer's hand, fingers closed."

Despite the dos and don'ts Schultz knows he won't be the last sailor to turn ink into a memory.

First Coast News

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