ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Throughout his four decades of service, New York Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Sauer said he always had a room with a view.Sauer concluded his 40-year career Aug. 25 with his final flight as an Army aviator. Friends and family joined him as he arrived in a C-12 airplane to celebrate at the Army Aviation Flight Facility.Sauer, a veteran of the Afghanistan War with additional deployments to Somalia, the Horn of Africa and Latin and South America, retires at the end of the year having served 33 years in a variety of aircraft cockpits. He has more than 6,100 hours of combined military and civilian aviation flight time.“They have a saying,” Sauer said: “The office is small, but the view is beautiful."Sauer serves with Detachment 5, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 245th Aviation Regiment. The unit provides command and control support. Sauer pilots the unit’s C-12 fixed-wing airplane.He's flown both fixed-wing and helicopters and says his career has been sustained by a love of flying."It's just the freedom,” Sauer said. “You are able to go ahead and use your talents and get a lot of difficult things done. Every day is different at work.”While many expect a career to span 20 years, achieving 40 years of service reflects a commitment and devotion to the aviation career field, said Lt. Col. Jason Lefton, the New York Army National Guard state aviation officer. It sets an example to follow, Lefton said.“He's done what only a handful of people can do," Lefton said.Sauer said his career has been fulfilling but the years flew by."It got here really fast,” he said. “I'm thankful for the time I was able to serve. Thankful for the lifetime acquaintances."Sauer began his military career in 1979 as an armored crewman on an M60A1 main battle tank as a loader/driver. After training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he served in Schwabach, Germany, where he continually rotated to the Czechoslovakian border for Cold War border security missions.Sauer attended Warrant Officer Flight School at Fort Rucker, Alabama, in 1987 and, after graduation as a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, served in South Korea until 1989 as a medical evacuation pilot. While overseas, Sauer completed more than 110 medevac missions, including shipboard transfers and field site pickups.Sauer was then assigned to Fort Drum, New York, from 1989-1993 as an assault helicopter pilot with the 10th Mountain Division, conducting training exercises, multiship operations in day, night and night vision goggle conditions. He deployed for counter-drug operations along the U.S. southwest border and deployed in 1993 to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope.Sauer left active duty in 1993 and entered the New York Army National Guard as a traditional Guardsman in 1995, serving as an assault helicopter pilot with the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment in Latham, New York.He completed a fixed-wing aircraft transition course in 2000 and was reassigned to the C-12 detachment in Latham, conducting flight missions in support of operations, including in Central and South America.Sauer deployed with the detachment in 2009 to Afghanistan as part of an aviation task force to provide persistent aerial reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition to observe enemy and friendly force ground movements.In 2010, he completed the instructor pilot course.Sauer deployed again in 2014, supporting missions on the Horn of Africa in Djibouti.On the flight ramp for his final flight, family members surprised Sauer to add to the celebration."I don't have the words,” said Marie Sauer, who has been married to James for 38 of his 40 years of service. “I'm so proud, so excited. This is his final flight. This is very special. I'm so excited and so blessed. Not very many military guys retire at 40 years of service."Also attending were the Sauers' daughter, Laura (Sauer) Ames, and her husband, Jeff, and grandchildren Olivia and Gavin and the Sauers' daughter-in-law, Julie Sauer, with grandchildren Jacob and Grave.Sauer's son, Josh, was unable to attend due to military duties with the Air Force Reserve’s 914th Air Refueling Wing, based in Niagara Falls."I'm proud he continued to serve and hope has a long and happy career," the senior Sauer said.Even as Sauer hangs up his flight suit for the final time, he will continue to take to the sky.He is employed full-time with the New York State Police as a civilian pilot assigned to their aviation unit in Rochester."I now see why people spend so much time serving our community and our nation,” Sauer said. “It really has been a blessing."For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard Twitter