Sam Bailey was fascinated with the military from an early age.
His father serves in the Royal Navy and Sam decided to follow him into the Armed Forces and joined The Parachute Regiment in 2009.
He serves as a Corporal in the Paras and his tattoos show the significant impact that joining this elite airborne regiment has had on his identity.
Serving in The Parachute Regiment is a huge part of my life.
Bellerophon and Pegasus
Bellerophon, one of Greek mythology’s greatest heroes, rides the winged-horse Pegasus and this was an iconic symbol of the Paras in the Second World War.
It was worn on the sleeves of paratroopers from the Battle of Arnhem in 1944 to the Battle of Goose Green, in the Falklands, in 1982.
When it was reintroduced in 2015, Sam got a tattoo of Bellerophon and Pegasus, linking himself to his Airborne ancestors.
“I’m hugely proud of the historical significance of the Pegasus,” he says.
“People may spot it and think it’s just a horse but when they realise what it stands for I am so proud of what it represents.
“This is my favourite because of what it symbolises. It shows the huge historical significance of what the regiment went through in World War Two.
“I’m proud of the history and I like the fact it’s got a strong meaning behind it.“
His tattoos also feature a skull, paratroopers and parachutes, illustrating the hazardous, daring and brutal nature of parachuting into battle with a saying widely used in the Parachute Regiment: “Death from Above.”
The inspiration behind this came after serving out in Afghanistan
Sam was just 18 when he was deployed on his first operational tour and was based in the Nad Ali district in Helmand Province. The bulk of his six-month tour was a series of foot patrols and sadly three of his comrades from the regiment were killed in action.
He recounts that this was the first time he was shot at and what that was like for him.
“When we first arrived and were on our initial training in Camp Bastion before going out on the ground we were told that the first time we get shot at, we will laugh,” he remembers.
“We all looked at each other and thought, this can’t be.
“But when it happened, that’s what we did. It was a combination of being scared and the adrenaline rush.”