Trying to fly a fighter jet through a sandstorm to save some Marines, that's the way his books starts, and those are the kinds of experiences that retired Air Force pilot Dan Hampton, the New York Times best-selling author of “Viper Pilot,” will try to explain to his audience at the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock.
Hampton, a 49-year-old resident of Colorado Springs who held the rank of colonel, will speak at 7 p.m. Aug. 16. He retired in 2006 after 151 combat missions and 20 years of service, and said in a recent interview he never thought of himself as a writer.
But on a trip home after receiving serious hand and shoulder injuries in a bombing incident in Baghdad, he decided he needed to try to write his experiences down before it would be too late and his child would never be able to read them. And he wanted a memoir for everyone else who might want to know more about what fighter pilots go through.
“It was a story that needed to be told,” he said. “How often do you see books written by fighter pilots?”
For his service in the Iraq War, Kosovo conflict, and first Gulf War, Hampton received four Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor; a Purple Heart; eight Air Medals with Valor and five Meritorious Service Medals.
He is a graduate of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School, Navy Top Gun School and Air Force Special Operations School. Hampton, a graduate of Texas A&M University, also has published articles in the Journal of Electronic Defense, Air Force Magazine and Airpower, as well as several classified tactical works for the USAF Fighter Weapons Review.
Hampton will share combat experiences as part of the Wild Weasels F-16 squadron in Iraq, Kosovo and the Gulf War. He said to most of the audiences he talks to, “it's a foreign world to them.” And he tries to put it in terms they'll understand, which is tough to do.
“There isn't anything to compare it to,” said Hampton about a world in which people are trying to kill each other.
“There's so much stark grimness in that life,” he said.
So he tries to relate some of the funny things that happen, mixing in humor when he can.
Doors open at 6 p.m. at the library, located at 100 S. Wilcox St., Castle Rock, and there will be refreshments. The 7 to 8:30 p.m. talk will be followed by a book signing.
Registration is required. To register go to http://host.evanced.info/douglas/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=78779&rts.