Performances: April 8, 9 & 10 – 7:30 p.m., April 12 – 1:30 p.m.
1st Battalion, 82nd Aviation Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C
“If there is anything I can say to ease your mind … if anything ever happens to me, you can be certain that I am doing the things I love,” she wrote. “… I’m living my dreams for sure, living life on the edge at times and pushing the envelope.
… “So, worry if you must,” she added, “but you can be sure that your only child is living a full, exciting life and is HAPPY!”
Kimberly Hampton wrote that message on Feb. 4, 2003, while stationed in Afghanistan. Eleven months later, the 27-year-old Army captain was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, when her Kiowa helicopter was shot down.
Kimberly Hampton died in January of 2004, just six years after graduating from Presbyterian College with honors in English. Captain Hampton was the first female military pilot in United States history to be shot down and killed as a result of hostile fire. She was also the first female combat casualty in Iraq from South Carolina. While at PC, Kimberly was a leader on the tennis team and the ROTC battalion commander. Her death devastated the PC community and those who knew her.
In 2012, Kimberly’s mother Ann Hampton and Greenville journalist Anna Simon published Kimberly’s Flight: The Story of Captain Kimberly Hampton, America’s First Woman Combat Pilot Killed in Battle, which documents both Kimberly’s life and the miracles that have happened since her death.
After reading the book, Professors Lesley Preston and Miriam Ragland decided to approach Ann Hampton about creating a play about Kimberly. Ann was excited about the idea and gave the department access to all of Kimberly’s materials. Professor Ragland and senior theatre major Taylor Figura received a grant from the college to research the military background to the play during the summer. The documentary theatre class in the fall researched Kimberly’s life and wrote the first draft of the script, working extensively from the book. This spring, the devised theatre class has taken up the project to bring the completed play to the stage.
The play will focus on two stories; the biographical story of Kimberly’s life, and the inspirational story of the impact of her life on those who knew her. One of the fascinating aspects of the second story is the number of reports from people who feel Kimberly’s spirit looking over them after her death. It is our hope that Kimberly’s spirit—her joy in what she did, her striving for excellence, and her deep love for her country—will live on in this work.
Kimberly’s Flight is adapted in part from Kimberly’s Flight: The Story of Captain Kimberly Hampton, America’s First Woman Combat Pilot Killed in Battle by Anna Simon and Ann Hampton, Casemate Publishers, 2012.