U.S. Army Captain Kimberly N. Hampton was living her dream: flying armed helicopters in combat and commanding D Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry, the armed reconnaissance aviation squadron of the 82nd Airborne Division. An all-American girl from a small southern mill town, Kimberly was a top scholar, student body president, ROTC battalion commander, and highly ranked college tennis player. In 1998 she was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. Then, driven by determination and ambition, Kimberly rapidly rose through the ranks in the almost all-male bastion of military aviation to command a combat aviation troop.
On January 2, 2004, Captain Hampton was flying an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter above Fallujah, Iraq, in support of a raid on an illicit weapons marketplace, searching for an illusive sniper on the rooftops of the city. A little past noon her helicopter was wracked by an explosion. A heat-seeking surface-to-air missile had gone into the exhaust and knocked off the helicopter's tail boom. The helicopter crashed, killing Kimberly.
Kimberly's Flight is the story of Captain Hampton's exemplary life. This story is told through nearly 50 interviews and her own emails to family and friends, and is entwined with Ann Hampton's narrative of loving and losing a child.
Retired award-winning journalist Anna Simon was been a reporter with The Greenville News in South Carolina for 21 years. She received the South Carolina Press Association's first place award for Reporting in Depth for 2009, and is a past recipient of multiple awards in education reporting, the press association's Judson Chapman Award for Community Service, and other news and feature writing awards.
Kimberly's mother, Ann Hampton, first met Anna Simon at the bleakest point in her life, immediately following her daughter's death, when Ms. Simon wrote a series of stories for The Greenville News about Kimberly's life and the reaction in the small Southern town of Easley, SC to her death. Ann has traveled twice to Iraq, in 2010, as a Gold Star Mom in a "Hugs for Healing" program sanctioned by the U.S. State Department, where American and Iraqi mothers grieving the deaths of their children worked side-by-side on humanitarian projects, and in 2011 on a humanitarian mission with "Friends of Kurdistan".