Some might think retired Lt. Col. Dan Hampton would be best described by the numbers of what he has accomplished:
- 151 combat missions
- 21 hard kills on surface-to-air-missile sites
- 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor
- 1 Purple Heart
But talk with the former fighter jet pilot, who went by "Two Dogs" and has been described as "America's most experienced" F-16 pilot, and you'll find a humble personality backing his impressive 20 years of service.
First Hampton is quick to tell you "America's most experienced" and other accolades that are being put to his name are not his own words. He says there are other guys out there from other wars that he considers doing more impressive things than himself.
Still, when it comes to some situations, such as being involved in the 2003 Iraq invasion, rescuing Marines from enemies near Nasiriya, flying over U.S. soil after 9/11, and serving during the Gulf War and war in Kosovo, Hampton said he's glad it was him who was there.
"I was glad, especially in the last war, that it was me in there," Hampton said in an interview with TheBlaze. "I had a lot of experience. I'm not saying someone else couldn't have done the same thing, but I'm glad it was me that ran into that. I was able to use up all my mojo and make it happen."
Hampton goes into detail from historic events he has been involved in his 1986 to 2006 tenure in an autobiography released to the public Tuesday called "Viper Pilot: A Memoir of Air Combat." He told TheBlaze he hopes the book provides a "glimpse through my eyes of things I've done in the last 20 years."
Watch Hampton talk about his experiences in this book trailer:
"I would like people to get a look at what has been done for them," he said, noting his appreciation to the support the American public has given to the military in the last few decades.
He also said he hopes the book serves a warning to America's enemies.
He said he first decided to write down his experiences in a book after being hurt while returning to the United States to reach his wife who was in pre-mature labor. Hampton said he wanted make record of it for his son in the event that something could happen to him permanently where he wouldn't be able to share these stories.
When it comes to the historic nature of some of Hampton's combat missions as part of the Wild Weasels, which the book's publisher Harper Collins' William Morrow writes is an "elite Air Force fighter squadrons whose mission is recognized as the most dangerous job in modern air combat," he said he didn't necessarily realize what he had just participated in until hours later on the ground.
"I think most guys in combat would agree after keeping yourself and those around you safe, your next move is to do whatever you're supposed to accomplish at the time. When you're zipping around at the speed of a rifle bullet, you don't have extra brain bites to ponder things. ... [A]fter sitting there on the ground, your brain slows down and you think about what you did that day," he said.
Hampton is currently on tour promoting his book with his next stop in Chicago. On Oct. 4 he will be speaking at the Pritzker Military Library, which describes the book on its website as a "rare autobiography [which] may be the final opportunity to cover this world through the lens of one of the best of the best."
Harper Collins describes the book as "irreverently humorous" and "an unforgettable look into the closed world of fighter pilots and modern air combat."
(H/T: Daily Mail)