A colorful memoir of a pilot who had a great deal of fun during his career, which included 726 career combat hours flown and service throughout the world, including Iraq during both wars.
Hampton emphasizes that he performed a fighter pilot’s most dangerous assignment—and it wasn’t air-to-air combat, which is probably a dying profession. He was a Wild Weasel, a member of the group of first planes sent into a conflict whose mission it is to suppress surface-to-air missiles. Barely mentioning his personal life, the author delivers 300 pages of aviation fireworks and strong opinion—noncombatant airmen, politicians and most foreigners do not come off well—accompanied by a torrent of technical details and military acronyms that will mystify military buffs but not discourage them. Hampton is not shy about recounting brushes with death, many of which involved mechanical failure, bad weather or human error (occasionally his). Though the Iraqi air force struck fear into no one’s heart, the author’s accounts of fending off anti-aircraft missiles during the 2003 Iraq invasion provide the book’s most dramatic combat experiences; however, none of the enemy missiles reached their targets. As a result, Hampton never describes a routine occurrence in memoirs of earlier wars: the deaths of comrades. A patriot and a warrior, the author expresses incomprehension that America’s crushing victories over evil Saddam Hussein have brought so little satisfaction.
The author concentrates on the fighting and does a fine job communicating the camaraderie, adolescent horseplay, conservative politics and hair-raising incidents of service in the elite macho fraternity of American fighter pilots.