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Combat Story

Jan 8, 2021

LTC (Ret.) Dan “Two Dogs” Hampton was a career fighter pilot who flew F-16s in multiple wars from the first Gulf War to Kosovo to Operation Iraqi Freedom over a 20 year career. He’s a fighter pilot to the core who earned four DFCs and eight Air Medals with Valor across 151 combat missions and is a graduate of the USAF Fighter Weapons School and Navy’s Top Gun.

Dan’s experience hunting SAMs and flying 500 knots below 300’ give a surreal perspective of life inside the cockpit. He describes his experience from a young, unafraid 25 year old LT flying in Iraq in 1991 when he first “saw the elephant” to the mature flight lead putting his own life on the line decades later, again in Iraq but against a more advanced enemy.

He easily balances the near death adrenaline rushes that come at Mach speed with the light-hearted post-flight activities we all expect in the elite fighter pilot community.

Since retiring from service, Dan has written a bestselling memoir (Viper Pilot) and multiple novels and other non-fiction books, including national bestsellers Lords of the Sky and The Mercenary. His most recent book, Operation Vengeance, came out in late 2020.

A frequent guest analyst on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC discussing foreign affairs, military, aviation, and intelligence issues, he has published in Aviation History, the Journal of Electronic Defense, Air Force Magazine, Vietnam magazine, and Airpower magazine, and written several classified tactical works for the USAF Weapons Review.

You can find Dan on Facebook and his books here.

0:00 - Intro
1:00 - Dan’s bio.
2:14 - Aviation inspiration? Why become a fighter pilot?
3:36 - Why the Air Force and not the Marines like your father and grandfather?
4:53 - “It never crossed my mind to fail.”
6:04 - ‘Seeing the Elephant.’ A reference to seeing combat for the first time.
7:41 - Air Force Instructor Pilots and the ‘FAR Line’ (Fighter, Attack, Reconnaissance).
9:54 - First combat experience in the first Gulf War.
11:28 - Stationed in Turkey for the Gulf War.
12:52 - The F-16 role as a SAM hunter (SA-8, SA-6, by Srđan Popović).
19:54 - Post-first combat flight and antics that take place at an O Club.
24:56 - Description of an incredible post-9/11 mission in Iraq.
35:31 - Call Sign “Two Dogs.” This one is not PG-rated.
37:41 - Dan’s good luck charm/talisman that he carried on his missions is PRICELESS.
41:04 - Would you do it again?
42:12 - If you could fly any aircraft, what would it be? The Chance Vought F4U Corsair.