How one of Indiana’s Very Own took down ISIS

Data pix.

For retired Army General Dana Pittard, being a soldier is in the blood.

"My father was in the Army," he said. "So he was one of my first heroes. So I think I was 5 years old when I said I want to be a soldier."

At just 10 years old, Pittard told his parents he wanted to attend West Point.

"They could’ve laughed. At that time there were really a handful of African-American graduates of West Point. But they said OK," he recalled.

Pittard eventually became one of the first African-American Army cavalry commanders and later led the largest tank company in the free world from Berlin.

"Surrounded by the Soviets. So I was there when the [Berlin] Wall came down," he recalled.

For President Bill Clinton, he carried the nuclear football as the president's military aide. Several years after that, he led the U.S. fight against ISIS in Iraq.

"The most brutal enemy we have fought in decades," he said bluntly.

He details the war in a soon-to-be-published book in which he writes about the failed mission to save Indy native Peter Kassig before he was executed.

"Twenty ISIS fighters were killed in that raid. But we just missed him," Pittard remembered solemnly.

He also writes about the plan to take out ISIS from the top down.

"That’s why out of the top 50 ISIS leaders, 40 of them were killed in the first year," he said quietly but passionately.

Despite victory, Pittard has a blunt answer to a critical question: is ISIS finished?

"No," he said.

Pittard says ISIS is still active in vulnerable nations like Afghanistan and Syria. His book is called Hunting the Caliphate: America's War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell. Look for it on Aug. 27.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated Pittard was the first African-American Army cavalry commanders, but he was one of the first. And the casualties he mentioned in the video were not under his command, but for the total conflict. General Pittard says none of his troops died in battle.

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