BOISE, Idaho — Maj. Gen. Gary Sayler will retire from his post as commanding officer of the Idaho National Guard at the end of October after a 45-year career in the military.
The Associated Press confirmed Sayler’s pending retirement with state officials on Thursday. Sayler was expected to retire in June, but Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter asked him to stay on a little longer while he continued the search for a suitable replacement.
“General Sayler has been a great partner in guiding and directing the efforts of our military, emergency management and public safety efforts throughout Idaho,” Otter said in a prepared statement. “Gary’s soft-spoken leadership by example speaks volumes about his command presence and his effectiveness as a manager.”
Sayler started in the U.S. Air Force as a second lieutenant, flying combat missions in southeast Asia before joining the Idaho Air National Guard in 1977. While in the Idaho Air National Guard, he flew combat missions in the F4-G Wild Weasel over Iraq during Operation Southern Watch and Operation Provide Comfort, which enforced no-fly zones in Iraq and provided humanitarian supplies to stranded Kurdish refugees.
Sayler has received several awards and decorations during his career, including the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal.
“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 a prepared statement. “I’ve been blessed with support from a tremendous community here in Idaho and will always be grateful for that.”
The U.S. military requires generals to retire at age 65, but it sometimes extends the age limit on request. Sayler turned 65 in 2015, and the military granted a one-year extension at Otter’s request.
But in January of this year, the military denied a second request from the governor to extend Sayler’s federally recognized status. Idaho law requires the head of the state national guard to be federally recognized when they are appointed to the post, but doesn’t require that status to be maintained.
Losing federal recognition means that the U.S. Department of Defense no longer considers Sayler eligible to represent the Idaho National Guard at out-of-state conferences, training or other events. Otter’s spokesman Jon Hanian said it’s not uncommon for heads of state national guards to continue serving after their federally recognized status expires.
Otter will appoint Sayler’s successor, but his office has not said which people are under consideration for the post.