Among the great strides made by women in recent decades has been their inclusion in the U.S. military during a time of global challenge. The first female helicopter pilots earned their wings in the 1970s, and by 1993 women were allowed to fly combat missions. However, this hard-earned responsibility also meant increased danger, with the likelihood that some would need to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Kimberly’s Flight is the story of Captain Kimberly Hampton, a troop commander of the 17th (Air) Cavalry, who became America’s first woman pilot killed in combat. On January 2, 2004, she was flying a Kiowa Warrior helicopter over the volatile city of Fallujah, Iraq when a heat-seeking surface-to-air missile destroyed her aircraft.
I first met Ann Hampton and her husband, Dale, at the darkest time of their lives as I covered their daughter’s death and funeral as a journalist with The Greenville (SC) News. When they later contacted me and asked me if I would consider helping them write this book, I told them it would be an honor.
It truly has been an honor to work with these brave parents, and it’s been a privilege to talk with scores of men and women, many of them aviators, who served with Capt. Hampton and served our nation.
Kimberly was a daughter such as every parent dreamed of. President of the student body in high school, a champion athlete in college and a diligent student, she excelled at all her endeavors, even while harboring an ambition to someday become a pilot.
After earning her degree at Presbyterian College on a full ROTC scholarship, Kimberly was accepted into the aviation branch of the U.S. Army and graduated with honors from the Helicopter Flight School and Officer Basic Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama. After serving in South Korea and then Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, she was subsequently deployed to Iraq. As the commander of Delta Troop, First Squadron, 17th Cavalry, of the 82ndAirborne Division, her duties led to her fate in the war-torn skies over Fallujah.
After Kimberly’s death, Ann Hampton, made two trips to Iraq to meet with other grieving mothers in a cross-cultural attempt at reconciliation to salve the wounds of war. Kimberly, who was posthumously honored with a Bronze Star as well as an ROTC scholarship in her name, has continued to have a positive influence in death, even as she did in life.
Kimberly’s Flight, published by Casemate, which specializes in books about the military, provides an intimate look at the young woman soldier’s ability to inspire. It is a salute to all women military aviators, who are leaders and role models for generations of young girls to come.
If interested in reading more about our book, please visit http://www.squidoo.com/kimberlys-flight where you can also purchase a copy from Amazon. Your visit to this page, as well as your purchase, will help the small but important Veterans Park in Pendleton SC.
Co-author, with Ann Hampton, of Kimberly’s Flight.