Ed Estes was born in 1934 in Marionville, Missouri. After graduating from Southwest Missouri State College in 1955, he entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on October 14, 1955, earning his commission as an Ensign on March 1, 1956, and his designation as a Naval Aviator on June 28, 1957. He then completed instructor pilot school before serving as a T-28 Trojan instructor pilot with Naval Air Training Command at NAAS Whiting Field, Florida, from October 1957 to January 1960. LtJg Estes next attended AD-6 Skyraider Replacement Pilot Training with VA-44 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, from February to June 1960, followed by service as an AD-6 pilot with VA-35 at NAS Jacksonville from June 1960 to December 1962, during which time he deployed with his squadron in support of the Cuban Missile Crisis from October to November 1962. His next assignment was as an Officer Assignments Officer with the Bureau of Naval Personnel at the Pentagon from January 1963 to January 1966. LCDR Estes then attended A-4 Skyhawk Replacement Air Group training with VA-125 at NAS Lemoore, California, from January to June 1966, followed by service as an A-4 pilot and Maintenance Officer with VA-112 at NAS Lemoore from July 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on January 3, 1968. After spending 1,898 days in captivity, CDR Estes was released during Operation Homecoming on March 14, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at the Oakland Medical Center in Oakland, California, and then served on the staff of the Commander, Light Attack Wing Pacific at NAS Lemoore from January to February 1974, and the Commander, Light Attack Wing 1 at NAS Cecil Field, Florida, from March to April 1974. He next attended A-7 Corsair II Replacement Air Group training with VA-174 at NAS Cecil Field from April to September 1974, followed by service as Commanding Officer of VA-72 at Cecil Field from September 1974 to October 1975. His next assignment was as an A-4 and A-7 Special Projects Officer on the staff of the Commander, Light Attack Wing 1 from November 1975 to July 1976. Capt Estes attended National War College in Washington, D.C., from August 1976 to June 1977, and then served as Commanding Officer of USNAS Agana, Guam, from August 1977 to November 1979. His next assignment was as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel with the Commander in Chief of U.S. Atlantic Fleet from December 1979 to August 1984, followed by service as Commander of Tactical Air Control Group TWO at PSD Little Creek, Virginia, from August 1984 until his retirement from the Navy on August 1, 1986.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from 3 to 5 January 1968. During this period, his captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.