EASLEY, SC (WSPA) – A park named after a fallen hero and Easley native was dedicated Monday morning.
The Capt. Kimberly Hampton Memorial Park was dedicated at 10 a.m.
Hampton was killed in Iraq in 2004 and was the first female American military pilot to die in combat in history. She was 27.
“This is sacred grounds. She volunteered and she didn’t have to go,” said Senator Lindsey Graham.
Every inch of the Capt. Kimberly Hampton Memorial Park shows a small glimpse of what the Easley native contributed to American history.
“This is an amazing accomplishment and it’s the beginning of a place for people to come and remember Kimberly,” said Dr. Alicia Tolbert, Capt. Hampton’s best friend.
“She was the first female pilot killed in the history of the nation. It started here in South Carolina. That speaks volumes to who we are,” Senator Graham said.
She may be knows as a historic icon, but since 2nd grade, Dr. Tolbert has always looked at the Captain as her best friend.
“I continue to honor my best friend everyday. My four year old is named Hampton. She’s feisty and fierce and I see Kimberly in her every single day,” Dr. Tolbert said.
That’s why many years ago, Jim Garrison, the Director of Operation Dragonfly, started this project to share the Captain’s legacy.
“I’ve always been taught to give back and to leave the world in a better place than when you found it,” Garrison said.
Now Capt. Hampton’s mother and many across the state hopes everyone will forever be inspired by the brave fallen hero.
“To the citizens of Easley and Pickens County, Kimberly is your daughter. This is home for her. Always was and always will be,” said Ann Hampton, Captain Hampton’s mother.
“That’s why we remember her today. She fell in Iraq to make us safe here in South Carolina,” Senator Graham added.
Leaders with Operations Dragonfly said it has taken years for the replica helicopter to be brought to the memorial site. They also say many business owners along county and statewide leaders had their hand in completing the Park.
The park dedication was hosted by Operation Dragonfly.