war paint


Don Knapp
United States Navy

I got my tattoo in March of 1944 in Honolulu Hawaii -- there's kind of a carnival atmosphere off the main street and I figured it might be my last go-around on Earth prior to the invasion. I wanted to get something that might help for identification. So me and my  buddy went. I felt pretty good about it.

All the older ship mates had come off of battle wagons and big destroyers prior to the war and they had tattoos of hinges on their elbows, and they had "sweet" and "sour" on their feet, and they had tattoos of "I love you" across their fingers. Some of them had wrist bands -- they were typical prewar sailors. They had tattoos all over; they had tattoos on their chests, and big black tigers on their shoulders. And I figured Hell, if it'll make me a man, and make me feel good, I'm going to get one too.


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