Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 25, 2020. It is the story of James Sauer, a National Guard Member, who retired after a 40-year flight career, but was still dedicated to service. Sauer was one of the two men who died in a Mercy Flight helicopter crash on April 26, 2022 in Genesee County.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Churchville resident Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Sauer with the New York Army National Guard capped off his 40-year flight career with the military at the Greater Rochester International Airport Tuesday.

With over 6,000 flight hours, his C-12 aircraft was greeted with streams of water from the fire department and sirens blasting to honor his service. CWO4 Sauer was greeted by dozens of co-workers, family and friends. He said today’s flight was just as important as his first flight some four decades ago with the Army.

That military career took him all over the world.  He joined the National Guard after leaving active duty in 1993. He later deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and to the Horn of Africa in 2014. There was lots of time in the air and away from home, his family was thrilled to see him finally touch down safe and sound, his military mission complete.

But CWO4 Sauer also flies for the New York State Police as part of their aviation unit. As News 8 learned, he’s not going to stay grounded for too long.

“I’m not done, no. I’m a civilian pilot with the State Police. Right across the ramp there I’ve been working with the State Police since 2004. So I’ve still got some years to go,” says CWO4 Sauer.

After that soundbite, Sauer was surprised from behind with a large bucket of water to mark the occasion and an ice cold Genesee Beer.

Prior to his work with the State Police, Sauer also worked with the Rochester Police Department for nine years as a patrolman.