Edward Sauley (NTHS '84)
By Community Relations Intern: Ian Teodoro (Timberline c/o 2020)
Flying over 30,000 feet high and up to speeds topping 1,000 mph, North Thurston alumnus (Class of 1984) Edward Sauley has dedicated over 2,000 hours of flying time in both the F-16 Jet and KC-135 aircraft.
After high school, Sauley graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1988, starting the Air Force pilot training only two months after. Graduating near the top of his class, Sauley was selected to pilot the F-16, and continued to fly the F-16 for the rest of his active duty career and his first five years in the Air National Guard. Alongside this, Sauley flew for United Airlines, piloting the Boeing 737 before taking military leave of absence to fly the KC-135 aircraft for his Guard unit in Sioux City, eventually moving up as the head of the Operations Group. “I’ve traveled the world and spent over a week in the Mediterranean on a US Naval ship. My most meaningful memories however involve flying medevac missions out of Afghanistan, bringing our wounded warriors out of Bagram Airfield back to Ramstein, Germany,” said Sauley.
Growing up, Sauley had early inspiration as to what a taste of the sky-life would be. “When I was growing up, my father would tell stories of his time in the Navy flying helicopters. To be honest that seemed really fun, but I wanted to be a fighter pilot. When I was accepted into the Air Force Academy that put me on the path, and when Top Gun came out my sophomore year I was absolutely hooked,” said Sauley.
Sauley has not only fine tuned his knowledge through his hands on experience in the sky, but has also put the time into the textbooks, showcased with his degree from the Air Force Academy in Astronautical Engineering, his Masters Degree from Embry-Riddle in Aeronautical Science, and several military courses he has completed throughout his career. “I’m a firm believer that your education never stops, even if your formal education is over. Today with YouTube and podcasts there is no excuse to not expand your understanding of something that interests you,” said Sauley.
Before his time in the military, Sauley states that he was “was pretty quiet and shy,” in high school. “I enjoyed playing soccer and basketball even though I wasn’t very good at either!” said Sauley. “One of the best things that ever happened to me was not making the basketball team my senior year. That season I joined the ski club and took lessons every Saturday. I’ve skied in South Korea, Utah, and Colorado. I owe my enjoyment of the sport to my time spent on Crystal Mountain.” Currently, Sauley also enjoys to hunt. “I enjoy hunting antelope and deer with my father’s old Winchester Model 70 in 300 H&H. That’s not a popular round today so I also handload my own ammunition,” said Sauley.
As of now, Sauley holds two jobs. With his recent 2018 2-star promotion, he serves as the Major General in the Air National Guard and the Air National Guard Assistant to the Commander at Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On the civilian side, Sauley continues to pilot through United Airlines, flying the Boeing 777 out of San Francisco, California. “In the Air Force once you reach the rank of General it is very difficult to actually fly an airplane,” said Sauley.
Regarding his position in the military, he states, “I’m really enjoying my time at Air Force Space Command, even if I ‘fly a desk’. With the standup of United States Space Command and the potential standup of a Space Force it’s a very exciting time to work space issues. The decisions we make today will shape the National Guard’s involvement with military space missions for years to come.” Sauley plans to retire in the summer of 2020, marking almost 32 years of service in uniform, not including his four years in the academy.
Through Sauley’s experiences in his line of work, and in general, he advises, “Keep your options open! Find something that you enjoy that will pay the bills. That might not be your first job, or even your second, but once you figure out a career work hard to be good at it. That career might be raising a family and running a household. No one is going to live your life except you, so make it what you want.” He also adds, “Please find a way to serve others, whether your family, your community, or your nation. ‘Life is suffering’ as the Buddha says. Having a purpose in life other than a selfish cause can provide some stability and a sense of satisfaction.”