Growing up in Wakefield, Mich., in the state’s western Upper Peninsula, former Army Spc. Arthur L. Saily II was described by many of his school friends as “one tough kid.”Wakefield sits in the heart of “Big Snow Country,” where every winter the snowfall totals are in the hundreds of inches, and people native to the area are considered the hearty, tough, independent type. That certainly describes Saily, he’ll admit.Throughout his youth, Saily said, he enjoyed working to help his family get through tough winters, doing things outdoors, and having good friends. However, once he graduated from Wakefield High School in the spring of 1987, he also knew he wanted more adventure in his life. So, not long after graduation, Saily signed up to “be all he could be” in the U.S. Army.Joining the ArmyAfter completing Army basic training in late 1987, and then advanced individual training to further his Soldier skills and become the operator of an M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, Saily was assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.Fort Hood is surrounded by the Killeen, Copperas Cove, Harker Heights, Belton, Gatesville, Temple, and Lampassas communities and was an area like a foreign country to a young man from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Saily said.According the Fort Hood website, it’s a 214,968-acre installation and is the only post in the United States capable of stationing and training two armored divisions. Saily said he was happy to be at a new place doing something new.As an M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle operator, Saily was in control of one of the Army’s newest armored vehicles at one of the busiest active-duty Army installations.The Army introduced the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle in the mid-1980s, according to Brittanica.com. The armored vehicle weighs 27.6 tons, has a three-person crew, can carry six infantry Soldiers, and is armed with a turret-mounted 25-millimeter cannon and an antitank missile launcher.“I enjoyed driving the Bradley and did it for three years before Desert Storm,” Saily said. “I became very good at it.”Getting call to Desert ShieldBy August 1990, when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein sent his military forces into Kuwait on an invasion to take over the country’s oil supply, Saily was a well-trained warfighter who had honed his skills as a Bradley driver.As Operation Desert Shield began at that same time, Saily said he knew they were going to get the call. And he knew they were ready for anything.“Prior to going to combat, we did three, three-week tours in a year and a half at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., in the Death Valley desert,” Saily said. “That was very helpful.”On Oct. 1, 1990, Saily said his unit went on lockdown, and they were finalizing their deployment for Desert Shield to Saudi Arabia.“During that time, we got a lot of medical shots, did our packing, and so much more,” Saily said. “I felt nervous and excited at the same time.”By Oct. 6, 1990, Saily said he boarded a plane at Fort Hood wearing full combat gear and headed to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.“After arrival, we went through quarantine for a week, picked up brand new Bradleys and ammunition, and headed northeast to a neutral zone that Iraq had taken over. We dug in positions on the border there and waited for orders.”Transitioning to Desert StormSaily said he and his fellow Soldiers stood guard at their positions for three months.“We trained doing what we could do with our guard up,” Saily said. “There was lots of radio watch and guard duty. I got bored.”However on Jan. 17, 1991, everything changed. Operation Desert Shield transitioned to Operation Desert Storm with the start of the air war. The air war continued daily until the ground war started on Feb. 24.Saily recalled some of his missions.“I went on a reconnaissance mission in late February to blow up communication towers,” said Saily who operated the Bradley Fighting Vehicle with his unit’s commanding officer. “That was exciting because we called for fire from artillery and watched from a distance at night as that mission got done.”A day after that mission, Saily said his unit received orders to go forward through the Wadi Al-Batin border area. Wadi Al-Batin is an intermittent river in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait. It is the lowest and final section of Wadi al-Rummah, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It runs 45 miles in a northeast-southwest direction through the Al-Dibdibah plain and has been recognized since 1913 as the border between Kuwait and Iraq.After crossing the Wadi Al-Batin, Saily said, all hell broke loose.“Right away we engaged the enemy bunkers, artillery, and tanks,” Saily said. “We lost two Bradleys and three comrades. Two of those comrades were good friends.“During this time, I did my job on instinct as the training took over,” Saily said. “This was the most afraid I’d ever been in my life so far. I was sweating horribly during what was a 7-hour battle. I was praying as I was driving and taking orders from my captain.”Saily said that after he experienced that first contact, he was a changed man.“I was so alert about everything and feared at some point my life could be taken,” he said.Saily said his unit continued to advance and they came across other skirmishes as the ground war continued. Officially, the timeline states the ground war lasted 100 hours. In reality, Saily said, there was more to everything they faced, but overall, the fight didn’t last an extended time.Looking back 30 yearsIn February 1991, Saily was in combat putting his life on the line. In February 2021, he still relives the combat he experienced and the things he saw in war and has severe PTSD.Saily said he gets treatment and care for his condition, but iis not easy.t“I still stress out every time the third week of February comes around,” Saily said.Now approaching 52 years old, Saily is back living in his native Upper Peninsula. He’s not in his native city of Wakefield on the west end of the peninsula — rather 300-plus miles east on the eastern section of the Upper Peninsula in Detour.Saily said he misses the camaraderie he had with his fellow Soldiers, and is glad he was part of the Army.“Even though I had to experience and see what I did, I would do it again,” Saily said. “Proud to be an American!”According to the Department of Defense, about 697,000 U.S. troops took part in the war, with 299 losing their lives — including the three Soldiers who served with Saily. Additionally, the U.S. and 40 allied nations, including several Arab nations, flew more than 18,000 air deployment missions, more than 116,000 combat air sorties, and dropped 88,500 tons of bombs.