Greg Estes is the brother to Debbie Estes Drew, son of Tom and Mary Lynn Estes, and grandson of Bev and Ethel Estes and Paul and Lillian Brieden. Greg graduated from Devine in 1990 and then attended – needless to say – Texas A&M University, graduating in 1995. While there, he was Group Commander and Ross Volunteer in the Corps of Cadets, and upon graduation, Greg was commissioned in the United States Air Force.
Greg’s first assignment was working at Texas A&M in the Air Force ROTC program. It was during this assignment that he met Lauren Taylor, and they began dating. Lauren had graduated as an undergrad in 1992 and then from Veterinary School in 1996. In 1996, while he was on assignment in Pensacola Naval Air Station, Greg and Lauren married in a ceremony on Lackland Air Force base.
The assignment to Pensacola Naval Air Station was Greg’s second one. His next assignment was back in San Antonio where he completed Navigator Training and finished as Top Graduate. This brings Greg to his fourth assignment, which was in Anchorage, Alaska, where he was a navigator on the C-130. In this role, Greg had multiple deployments throughout the Pacific and Asia. He adds, “I visited many islands to include Midway, Kwajalein, and the Hawaii islands. I deployed to several countries to include Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and others.”
Del Rio, Texas, was Greg’s fifth assignment, and there he attended Air Force pilot training. He completed pilot training and, again, was the top graduate of his class. On to assignment number six, which was to Charleston, South Carolina. There, Greg was a C-17 Instructor Pilot. In that role, he went on multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq and traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South and Central America.
Back to Anchorage for his seventh assignment, Greg flew the C-17 and was part of the Program Integration Office in preparation for the C-17 being moved to Alaska. He elaborates, “The job entailed extensive construction and multiple agency coordination to get an Air Force Base ready for $2B worth of aircraft to reside there.” Then, assignment number eight took Greg and his family to Montgomery, Alabama, where the Air Force sent him to receive his Master’s Degree from Air University.
In 2008, Greg received his ninth and final assignment, and it was to San Antonio. Since that time, they have lived in New Braunfels. In 2015, Greg retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel and is currently a production test pilot on the C-17 for the Boeing Corporation. Greg and his family are active in their community, attending Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church and staying actively involved in Comal ISD. Greg’s and Lauren’s oldest son, Cole – who was born while they were stationed in Anchorage – graduated from Canyon High School in 2016 – this after having attended schools in South Carolina, Alaska, Alabama, and Texas. Currently, Cole is a sophomore at Texas A&M. Kyle, their second son – who was born in Del Rio and attended schools in Alaska and Alabama before the family settled in Texas – is a junior at Canyon High School. In addition to their community interests, Greg and Lauren are avid Aggies. They have Texas A&M season tickets “and host large numbers at our tailgate at Texas A&M home games,” Greg proudly states.
Throughout their travels and assignments, Greg’s wife, Lauren, practiced veterinary medicine, in both private practice and as the base civilian veterinarian. Greg says, “Working on base was one of her favorite passions, as she was able to work with military members’ privately-owned animals and military working dogs.” Greg proudly shares that Lauren received a medal for her service to the army in 2005 during the humanitarian evacuation of non-combatants from Turkey. And when the family moved to San Antonio in 2008, Lauren went to work at Fort Sam Houston as the base civilian veterinarian. Then, a crisis occurred in 2009 when she was diagnosed with a glioblastoma grade 4 brain tumor. Greg relates, “Lauren’s prognosis was not good, and she was expected to have only 6-12 months left. She underwent two craniotomies at Willford Hall and entered into a year-long clinical trial, chemo treatment at MD Anderson in Houston. We are eight years post-treatment, and while she is closely monitored, we have had no recurrence. She is a walking miracle.”
About his flying career, Greg elaborates, “It has been quite varied. I have flown everything from training missions to humanitarian relief to presidential support. One of my most memorable flights was flying Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on his first trip into Afghanistan.” And, he adds, “For about five years, I flew the C-17 production test flights. This is the test flight when an aircraft comes off the assembly line. It is always amazing to fly an aircraft that has never flown before.”
When asked to elaborate on his clearly amazing career as an Air Force pilot, Greg responded with this: “I am very proud of my service and missions flown. It is very difficult to relay the most impressive missions due to their length in detail. I will say that I was very fortunate to get to experience things most people never dream of. I have stood on the polar ice cap, seen the pyramids, gone snorkeling in the Indian Ocean, spent two weeks touring Rome and Vatican City, and experienced countless other adventures, all while serving my country. I also drove with my family from Texas to Alaska and back to Texas. Then we drove from South Carolina to Alaska and back to Alabama. That is easily 14,000 miles driven with a trailer, wife, kids and pets. I wouldn’t trade those adventures for the world.”