Captain Kimberly Hampton

Kimberly was born August 18, 1976 in Greenville, SC. We always called her our miracle baby…because by then we had been married for twelve years, and had almost given up hope of being parents.

When she was just a toddler, Kimberly seemed to fall down more than other children, and we were concerned…the pediatrician confirmed our worst fears that she needed corrective shoes and may never be able to run without falling. Overcoming this obstacle was only the first test…she later was diagnosed with scoliosis, then severe allergies. Any one of the above would have kept a less determined person down, but not our baby girl. She seemed to attack each health issue the same way she attacked every task she ever faced…full steam ahead!

Elementary school at Forest Acres and West End, then Easley Junior and Easley High School paved the way for one year at Furman University and three years at Presbyterian College. During those years she met and was influenced by many people, but she admired no one more than EHS Naval Junior ROTC commander, Captain Jim Franklin. His dedication, professionalism, passion for his job and compassion for his students inspired her and set an example that she held as a standard for the remainder of her life. With CPT Franklin nurturing her emerging leadership abilities, she began to consider a military career…a decision that she never regretted.

Kimberly was such a memorable person that her good friend Kelli not only holds fond memories of their time together but she also reflects back to Kimberly’s likes, dislike and even pet peeves…

  • Kimberly’s pet peeve was someone not giving 100%
  • Kimberly disliked losing, not feeling like she could give 100% at everything she was doing
  • Kimberly liked working out, running, laughing hard, singing at top of lungs in the car with windows down and sunroof open, Indigo Girls music, her blue PC tennis hat, all her hats really — she also wore the ARMY hat a lot, CLEMSON in general.

Kelli remembers…

  • In college, Kimberly was so tired all the time because of a full class load, ROTC, and tennis – would sleep at the drop of a hat when she could (in the car on the way to a match, for example)
  • Kimberly prepared for matches by listening to music…from Rocky movies
  • That Kimberly’s forehand was INCREDIBLE!
  • Kimberly focused her attention and gave good eye contact when she was listening
  • Kimberly crying with her about heartbreaks and breakdowns
  • Begging Kimberly to be careful (usually just in general, but definitely related to going overseas)
  • Fun in San Francisco on spring break with the tennis team
  • Watching Kimberly and Chrissie play doubles together — dynamite!
  • Visiting Kimberly in flight school and going to a party dressed like bikers
  • How she loved it when Kimberly watched her tennis matches — “even her presence was motivating to me!”
  • “Watching HER play tennis was definitely one of MY favorite things to do – I would always hope she would still be playing when I was done.”
  • The phone call Kelli got when Kimberly was about to jump out of a plane asking Kelli to pray for her
  • Kimberly coming to Myrtle Beach to visit after getting back from Ft. Lewis one summer

Sept 7, 2003 – The wind today was over 40 knots and at times the sand was blowing so bad we couldn’t see more than 20 feet ahead. Had to break out the goggles to keep the sand out of my eyes. It was bad.

Sept. 17, 2003 – (to Rick Simmons) – We are in Kuwait for just a couple more days. We have been busy, busy…doing environmental qualifications, gunnery, small arms ranges, classes and maintenance. My challenges as a commander continue to grow and change. It’s still rewarding. It is truly an honor to be a Troop Commander in combat. I sent guys forward on the ground today. I’m certain that I will never forget the feeling I had when I saw that convoy roll away. Tough to describe over email . Felt a lot of different emotions. I’m sure that the day we cross the border in the air will be similar for me.

Sept. 18, 2003 – (to Rick Simmons) – Oh, so many things I miss about Easley. My favorite meal at Joe’s is two grilled cheese sandwiches with fries and sweet tea. Gotta have ice cream afterwards, of course.

Oct. 6, 2003 – First day to access email (from Iraq). It’s limited. I’m flying a lot and staying safe. Sleeping well, eating 2 hot meals a day and getting a warm shower every day. It’s hot still, but getting cooler at night. The dust is still bad. I love you very much and can’t wait to get home!

Oct. 13, 2003 – You may see some things in the news about our base or our aircraft. Just know that everything is just fine. My troop has not been involved and everyone is safe.

Oct. 24, 2003 – We should be moving into new tents in the next month. We kinda live in the ghetto right now – crowded with clothes and equipment hanging everywhere. Everyone is pretty comfortable though. I’m flying quite a bit. The body armor we wear when we fly hurts everyone’s backs, especially on long flights. We have adopted the philosophy that if we are flying, then we are deterring enemy action, so we try to stay in the air as much as possible. The bad guys come out at night. They are hitting the ground guys hard. EIDs are the biggest threat and they are everywhere. I love you both very much and can’t wait to get home to you!

Nov. 6, 2003 – I would love to do a family photo when I get back! Our power situation is getting better. Electric lights for Christmas will work out fine. We have gotten inventive with wiring to different generators. I think we may even have some real power run to buildings by the time the lights arrive. Living conditions seem to change daily and we are seeing a lot of improvements.

Nov. 16, 2003 – Got another box of goodies today – perfect timing. Things are hard to come by here and we rely on packages from home for our amenities. We’re still in the tents we brought, set up behind big bunkers. It’s kinda like a scene from a Vietnam movie. We’ve sandbagged most of the tents and it’s like a little village. Clothes hang on the line between tents. Yes, I’m using the Santa hat box for a bedside table!

Nov. 21, 2003 – Please continue to pray for my unit, for our families, and for our emotional well-being. I love you all very much!

Nov. 27, 2003 – Happy Thanksgiving! Wish I could have been there. It’s been a long time since I was home for Thanksgiving. Maybe next year. We all have a lot to be thankful for. Please let all the family know that I am well and counting the days until I get back home to them! Be safe and stay happy. I love you both very much and looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations when I get home.

Dec. 24, 2003 – Merry Christmas! Wish I could be there to celebrate with you guys. I am with you in spirit always. I love you.

Dec. 31, 2003 – (our last communication from Kimberly) – Hope you have a great New Years Eve. I love you both very much.

“I have so many memories of Kimberly. As far as music goes I remember she liked James Brown, Prince (before he changed his name), and Ray Stevens. I still have the tape she dubbed for me from her Ray Stevens collection. I laugh because she wrote on the label “This tape recorded on Kimberly Hampton’s massive stereo system”. I remember playing Nintendo tennis (she always won, BIG SURPRISE!), sleepovers, and always having an afternoon playmate at West End. She was a great dresser, even in sweats she looked so put together. She was just a natural beauty and it radiated from her all the time. I think her favorite flower was a sunflower. She liked riding in the Accord with the sunroof open and windows down. I remember Jackson the Collie that we would run around with in the yard. I remember how happy I was to see her at PC for the first time after she moved in. Sometimes now I go by and visit her for a while…the tombstone is beautiful and I love the picture window.”

~ Katherine Lathem Reid

“When you grow up as a competitive athlete, you are able to see people’s true colors pretty quickly. How someone chooses to conduct themselves in moments of stress and when the match is “on the line” is very telling about their character. I knew Kimberly Hampton because we both were junior tennis players and saw each other very regularly at South Carolina Tennis Association events. Although I never faced her in a match (thank goodness!) because of our difference in gender, I did observer her play regularly because she was my friend. Kimberly’s cool, calm and collected attitude on the court was never missing.  Matched with a palpable but quiet intensity—you knew that she was a classy but fierce competitor at all times. I cannot write without also saying that Kimberly just so happened to be extremely beautiful. But, if you were a friend of hers, you knew that her physical beauty was certainly squelched by the magnitude of her kindness and strength of character.”

~ Ryan Lindsay