Someone a few weeks ago asked how many Route 66 tattoos were on the body of Ron “Tattoo Man” Jones of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
I said it was north of 100 but had no certainty, because Jones was liable to add one any given weekend.
And Jones provided the tattoo total: 162.
Here’s the story from the station:
And, if you haven’t seen it, The Road Crew wrote and performed a song about him a few years ago:
Jones has traveled much of Route 66 but still hasn’t made it to Chicago. He tried once, but his tricked-out 1956 Chevy acted up during an attempted trip to the Windy City, and he never made it there.
What many people don’t know is Jones is a survivor of the famous Hamburger Hill battle in Vietnam in 1969. He earned a Purple Heart from the experience.
Sandi Wheaton wrote about Jones after encountering him at Afton Station in Afton, Oklahoma, during a Route 66 trip in 2009:
During the short time we spoke about his experiences over there, it was clear that beneath the colorful icons decorating his skin, the man carries around with him some pretty dark memories of that time. About five years ago he was diagnosed with PTSD, and that’s helped him open up and talk more about his wartime experiences. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a Vietnam vet about serving in the war before (again, being Canadian, it’s a rarity for me). I was deeply saddened when, at one point, Ron got overwhelmed and some heavy feelings bubbled up in him when I asked about his purple heart. I can’t even imagine how it must be to carry those horrific images around in his head for the rest of his life. I found myself feeling patriotic – an odd sensation, since I am not in my home country. Thank you Ron, for your service – in all the ways you give it!
The tattoo tally for Jones probably will last for another weekend or so. But don’t count on him to reach 200; he admits he’s running out of real estate.
(Screen capture image of Ron “Tattoo Man” Jones at the Meltdown Diner in Tulsa)