Texas major general tapped to lead Iraq mission

Major General Dana J.H. Pittard, commanding general, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss speaks as he helps introduce President Barack Obama to troops, service-members and military families at the 1st Aviation Support Battalion Hangar at Fort Bliss, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Major General Dana J.H. Pittard, commanding general, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss speaks as he helps introduce President Barack Obama to troops, service-members and military families at the 1st Aviation Support Battalion Hangar at Fort Bliss, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

EL PASO, Texas (NBC NEWS) — The two-star general tapped to lead the advise-and-assist mission in Iraq is a disciplined leader who earned praise for running a tight ship at the Army’s second-largest installation.

But decades before Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard assumed command of the 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, he was just a 10-year-old boy captivated by a magazine article about Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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Pittard has recalled leafing through the pages of National Geographic in 1969 and stumbling on an article about Eisenhower, the legendary Army general and 34th president.

“I wasn’t a studious National Geographic type person,” Pittard told the El Paso Times in May 2013. “The reason I was looking at National Geographic, I was looking for scantily clad natives. I was a kid.”

And yet a photo of Eisenhower struck a nerve in young Pittard and helped inspire him to join the military.

See more of Pittard’s story on NBCNews.com.

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