When Kirstie Ennis visited Metro Tattoo in Tucson, Arizona, she had a challenging request for Anthony Michaels: help create an homage to the tattoo she lost when a combat injury resulted in amputation.
Ennis, who served six years in the Marine Corps, was wounded on June 23, 2012, in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. She eventually had to have her left leg amputated.
“I didn’t just lose my left leg. I lost a tattoo that was something that was representative of my morals and values. That’s a piece of me that I lost that I’m never going to get back,” she said.
The lost tattoo depicted a grenade made of unexpected elements, including a sunflower, a peace sign and an olive branch. Michaels surprised Ennis with a design containing many of those elements, and they quickly agreed it would be a fitting tribute to the lost tattoo.
USAA’s YouTube series, “Service & Ink,” captured the collaboration between Ennis and Michaels – and the stunning result.
Check out the full video, and hear Ennis poignantly describe why tattoos are so meaningful to her.
Ennis is dedicated to inspiring others to meet their challenges and rise above them. As part of her recovery, she competed in the snowboarding event at the 2018 Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Her story has been told in publications such as ESPN the Magazine and Cosmopolitan.