Maj Gen Gregory A. Feest was first selected by Air Command and Staff College’s Gathering of Eagles in 2010 and subsequently honored in 2017. “Beast” Feest has the unique distinction of having dropped the first bombs in two different operations: Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama and Operation DESERT STORM.
He began his military career as a navigator in 1978 after receiving his commission from the University of Wisconsin, Madison Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He later became a pilot and held a variety of flying assignments, including commander of operations and maintenance at one of only two operational F-117A Nighthawk squadrons. He also commanded the 479th Flying Training Group at Moody AFB, Georgia, the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, and 19th Air Force at Randolph AFB, Texas.
Feest has more than 5,600 hours in myriad aircraft, including more than 800 combat hours earned during Operations JUST CAUSE, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. While a major assigned to the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, he led the first Air Tasking Order that initiated the attacks of Operation DESERT STORM. His target was the Radar Intercept Operations Center (IOC) at Nukhayb, Iraq, that linked Iraqi border radars to the Air Defense Headquarters located in Baghdad. Although DESERT STORM was not the first operational use of the Nighthawk, this mission was distinctly different from Operation JUST CAUSE. Panama had virtually no air defense, but Iraq was considered one of the most heavily defended countries in history.
On 17 January 1991, Feest released a single GBU-27 on his target, and the 2,000 pound, laser-guided bomb penetrated deep into the Iraqi air defense network’s IOC. The strike was part of a well-synchronized mission that quickly followed the first attacks from the U.S. Navy’s Tomahawk cruise missiles and Task Force Normandy’s helicopters. Close on the heels of these attacks, coalition air forces began mercilessly pounding countless Iraqi targets. Through the remainder of the Iraqi campaign, the F-117 would continue attacking the most difficult targets that required the highest degree of precision. Accounting for only 2.5 percent of fighter assets, the Nighthawk was credited with destroying a remarkable 40 percent of targets in the first three days of the war. Feest completed 39 combat missions against varying critical targets throughout the war. Surprisingly, despite flying some of the most dangerous missions of the war, the F-117s did not record a single incident of battle damage.
After DESERT STORM, General Feest went on to hold various positions such as senior military assistant to the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C., and Deputy Director for Force Application, Directorate of Force Structure, Resources and Assessment, Joint Staff, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.. Feest retired in 2012 as a major general after serving as the Air Force Chief of Safety.