Dan Hampton, author of ‘The Hunter Killers,’ visits the Bookworm of Edwards | VailDaily.com

Dan Hampton, author of ‘The Hunter Killers,’ visits the Bookworm of Edwards

Leigh Horton
Special to the Daily
Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Dan Hampton.
Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

Who: Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Dan Hampton, author of “The Hunter Killers.”

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St. #C101, Edwards.

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Cost: $10, includes appetizers.

More information: Visit http://www.bookwormofedwards.com.

EDWARDS — July Fourth is an opportunity for Americans to remember veterans who helped to gain and secure our freedom. To help valley residents get into the Independence Day mood, Dan Hampton, author of “The Hunter Killers,” will hold an author event at The Bookworm of Edwards on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

According to Lt. Col. (Ret.) Hampton, “The Hunter Killers” is a tribute to members of the Wild Weasels and support crews who destroyed ground surface-to-air-missiles during the Vietnam War. Their moving stories are told for “those of us who came later — those of us who were neither taught the reasons for the conflict nor encouraged to discover them for ourselves.”

Hampton’s technical, military, non-fiction thriller is perfect for readers interested in the brave pilots who ensured safety for ground troops and aerial missions over Vietnam. Using archaic World War II technology and jets, their missions were often the most dangerous ones in the conflict.

The emotional power of Hampton’s writing comes from his ability to delve into the Weasels’ lives and mental state during and after battle. Drawing on wingmen’s ambitions and families, readers become invested combatants.

Their individual stories, frequently lost between politics and discontent, draw readers into the heat of battle, making them feel like they are controlling the jets. Hampton’s aptitude to make war a personal topic is what makes him one of the greatest non-fiction war writers today.

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“Hampton’s command of the nuances of technology, in addition to his knowledge of the Vietnam War on the ground and in the air, renders this book both informative and moving,” says Kirkus Reviews.

A personal story

Part of the success of “The Hunter Killers” is clear from the reviews from current and former Wild Weasels.

“[Hampton] is to be applauded for recording this unique history, thereby honoring the extraordinary men who developed and refined the Wild Weasel anti-SAM mission — many of whom perished in the process. Additionally, his geopolitical analyses contain valuable lessons for our current politicians,” says Phil Steeves, Wild Weasel No. 1174.

Although Hampton writes that the book “is not an intentionally political work,” it attempts to answer the questions: Who were those men dying in Vietnam, and why were they there?

Hampton portrays unique military humor in his stories, offering a levity to serious scenes. From an image of Jane Fonda on a urinal to describing the tradition of presenting men returning from their 100th flight over Vietnam with beer and champagne, Hampton highlights the light-hearted moments that made combatants’ lives bearable.

The real gem of Hampton’s work is his own experience as a Wild Weasel. As a survivor of this most dangerous military work, his passion and familiarity with the topics show in his technical descriptions. While the technology may be overwhelming at first for many readers, these details bring a dimension that only the most dedicated military member could share.

Appealing to active and retired military members and military history fans, the book and its author remind us of the cost of freedom, and how fortunate we are to celebrate these brave Americans who flew the dangerous missions in the Vietnam War — in outdated machinery.

Leigh Horton is a bookseller at The Bookworm of Edwards.

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