A Sad First

Captain Kimberly Nicole Hampton was the Commander of Delta Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, the armed reconnaissance aviation squadron of the 82nd Airborne Division. She was also the first female military pilot in United States history to be shot down and killed due to hostile fire.

CPT Hampton (shown here as a 1LT) at home in the cockpit. Image Courtesy of sentinelprogress.com

The day was January 2nd, 2004. Another pilot was slated to lead the mission that day, but Kim insisted on doing it herself because of the level of danger involved. She was piloting an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior just outside of Fallujah, Iraq, providing cover for ground troops raiding an illicit weapons marketplace. Her aircraft took heavy ground fire, causing it to crash, killing her instantly. She was 27 years old.

She was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Air Medal, and Purple Heart.

A Small Town Girl

Kim was an all-American girl from a small South Carolina mill town. She was student body president, ROTC battalion commander, a West Point appointee, and a nationally ranked (18th in the country) college tennis player.  Hampton decided to stay close to home for school and attended Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. She graduated and received her commission as a second lieutenant in 1998.