It was there, outside a museum at Fort Hood, Texas, it became clear.
"That's sort of when I knew it was a big deal, seeing the truck out there with all these other historic vehicles," she said.
Hampton, who lives in Killeen, Texas, was an "Army brat," the child of a soldier. In the fifth grade, she was assigned to outline what she wanted to be when she grew up, so she wore her father's uniform to school.
It seemed like a natural step to join the Army, and it was no surprise when she got orders to deploy to Iraq.
Her father never really talked about his time there. After his second deployment, he wasn't the same, she said. He refused to go through the drive-in, and he didn't like crowded stores.
It was likely difficult for him to see how she'd changed, she said.
"When he left, I was a little girl," she said. "I had a cell phone and a boyfriend when he came back."
By the time Hampton got to Iraq, the end of the war was in sight. There was still the daily threat of roadside bombs and rocket attacks to contend with, but nothing like her father had seen at the height of the war.
In the year since she rolled across the Iraq-Kuwait border, Hampton got engaged to a fellow soldier.
As she looks toward starting a family, Hampton's made another decision: She's getting out of the Army.
"I honestly don't think I want to put my children through that," she said.
"It's really hard."
'I don't want to live like this'
Ali Adel waited his turn for a haircut in a small barbershop nestled between short, squat buildings near his neighborhood mosque.
One minute, he was making small talk with patrons. The next thing the 20-year-old remembers is lying in a Baghdad hospital bed, writhing in pain.
He had no memory of the November 27 blast, a bombing that took place nearly a year after the last U.S. troops left Iraq.
"I never thought this would happen to me," Adel said, lying in a bed at his family home.
Over the years, Adel had seen the devastation caused by bombings that repeatedly struck his neighborhood in the predominantly Shiite district of Shula. For years following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Sunni extremists targeted the al-Zahraa mosque in his neighborhood with deadly results.
When U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq, Adel was hopeful that maybe the violence, the bombings, might stop.
Adel was 11 during the 2003 invasion. Today, he measures life in Iraq by "before" and "after."