Myke Cole is the author of the Shadow Ops series, which he’s described not as military fantasy, but more as fantasy with the military experience. It’s experience that draws on his own life, including three tours in Iraq, and serving in the U. S. Coast Guard. His next book, Gemini Cell [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound], comes out on January 27.
Here’s Myke talking about his tattoo:
This is the progress of my quarter-sleeve thus far. I thought about tattoos for many years, making sure the idea is fixed firmly in my mind before finally getting it inked on. My second requirement for a tattoo is that it mark an event in my life I will want to remember forever, no matter how its character may change.
The Eagle & Anchor is the symbol of an officer in the United States Coast Guard. The device appears in a few places, on badges, on our hat-bands, and in many plaques and decorations. After six years in uniform, I finally decided that, even if I should be turned out of the guard tomorrow in disgrace (don’t worry, that isn’t happening), my attainment of an officer’s commission is one of the watershed events in my life. It is one of the things I am most proud of, a thing I will cherish forever.
The text across the top is from General Douglas MacArthur’s famous 1962 speech to the cadets of West Point as he accepted the Sylvanus Thayer award. The speech is incredibly stirring.
I was particularly struck by this passage: Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government; whether our strength is being sapped by deficit financing, indulged in too long, by federal paternalism grown too mighty, by power groups grown too arrogant, by politics grown too corrupt, by crime grown too rampant, by morals grown too low, by taxes grown too high, by extremists grown too violent; whether our personal liberties are as thorough and complete as they should be. These great national problems are not for your professional participation or military solution. Your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honor, Country.
There are many ways to interpret these words, but mine is this: That as a military officer, it is my duty to act on the will of the civilian government, to carry out and not set policy. In the end, professional violence must serve the will of civilian masters, else we have military dictatorships like the one presently governing Thailand. That must never be the case in the United States, and these words are my reminder that my first obligation is to the American people.
The tattoo isn’t done. Hopefully in the next year or two, I will be adding a life-ring on the opposite side of that arm. Behind the life-ring will be a crossed boathook and oar. Printed on the life-ring will be the words: SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN. Because being an officer is only one point of pride in my military service. Another is that I am a Search-and-Rescueman. Where members all military branches must put their lives on the line to slay others, I have the distinct honor of putting mine on the line to save them.”