State Politics

He’s spent 40 years with the Idaho Guard. Now, he’ll say goodbye.

Maj. Gen. Gary L. Sayler’s official photo.
Maj. Gen. Gary L. Sayler’s official photo.

Idaho National Guard Maj. Gen. Gary L. Sayler announced Thursday he will retire Oct. 31 after serving 45 years in the military.

Sayler, appointed adjutant general by Gov. Butch Otter in 2010, is responsible for overseeing of all units of the Idaho National Guard. He also is director of the Idaho Military Division, which includes the Office of Emergency Management, Public Safety Communications and the Idaho Youth Challenge Academy.

A factor in his retirement? Age. The U.S. military has a mandatory retirement age of 65 for generals, but it can be extended upon request. Sayler turned 65 in 2015.

Otter secured Sayler a one-year extension in 2015. But this January, the federal government denied Otter’s request to extend Sayler’s federally recognized status further, the Associated Press reported earlier this year. Losing federal recognition means the Department of Defense considers Sayler a retired military officer and he no longer travels on the federal dime.

Otter at the time said Sayler would serve as the commanding officer of the Idaho National Guard until the state’s fiscal year ended on June 30.

“General Sayler has been a great partner in guiding and directing the efforts of our military, emergency management and public safety efforts throughout Idaho,” said Otter in a Thursday news release. “Gary’s soft-spoken leadership by example speaks volumes about his command presence and his effectiveness as a manager.”

Otter has not yet named Sayler’s replacement.

Idaho Statesman file photo

Commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps, Sayler started as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. His first assignment was in 1972 in Thailand, where he flew combat missions across Southeast Asia, according to the governor’s office.

He joined the Idaho Air National Guard five years later, first as a weapons systems officer for the 124th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, later flying F-4Gs over Iraq in the 1990s.

“The highlight of my military career has been the honor of serving the civilians, soldiers, airmen and families of the Idaho Military Division,” Sayler said in Thursday’s news release. “I’ve been blessed with support from a tremendous community here in Idaho and will always be grateful for that.”

Sayler gradually worked his way up command, serving a number of administrative roles. He has received numerous awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal with silver oak leaf cluster.

His time as adjutant general included the Idaho Air Guard’s largest overseas deployment of the past few years. More than 500 Air Guard members traveled to the Middle East in 2016 to support combat operations there. It was the group’s largest deployment since 2008.

More than 200 members of the Idaho Air National Guard were welcomed home late Sunday night Oct. 23, 2016 at Gowen Field in Boise. The 124th Fighter Wing was stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey for six months in support of Operation Inherent R

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell