DALTON, Ga. — As the raid targeting Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi unfolded on Saturday, a native of Dalton was in the Situation Room of the White House with President Donald Trump and other military leaders monitoring the action.

It was just another chapter in the war on terror for Brig. Gen. Marcus Evans, but the moment was captured in a photo that may become an iconic image of the Trump presidency.

Evans, a 1988 graduate of Dalton High School, is the deputy director for Special Operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the photo released by the White House, Evans is seated at a conference table along with the president, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and others.

“Knowing Marc the way that I do, it does not surprise me at all,” said Dalton High School football coach Matt Land, who played football with Evans in high school. “Even when we were growing up, Marc was always a leader. Marc was always focused on making things better, whether it was the football team or leadership or anything. You just saw it in him.”

Evans joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) while on a football scholarship at Tennessee Tech University. After graduation, he was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment at Fort Lewis.

After completing that assignment, he served with the 3rd Ranger Battalion at Fort Benning. That was followed by assignments to the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Ranger Battalion, 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment headquarters and 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He commanded the 3rd Ranger Battalion from July 2011 to June 2013 and was assigned to Joint Special Operations Command from July 2014 to February 2015. He was commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment from 2015 to 2017.

Before his tour with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Evans was the deputy commanding general (support) for the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart near Savannah.

Two years ago, Land invited Evans to speak to the high school football team before a playoff game. Land said Evans preached the importance of preparation.

“You prepare for moments in life, and what happened this weekend was because of preparation,” Land said. “It is that preparation that not only helps create who you are but what you become. He was someone who was constantly moving toward a goal.”

Throughout his career, Evans has been involved with special operations and elite training. His brother Matt, who is the chairman of the Dalton Board of Education, said Marcus Evans has spent most of his military career with an eye cast toward the Middle East since planes flown by terrorists took down New York City’s Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It is a moment that makes you proud,” Matt Evans said of the photo taken in the White House. “Marc has been a patriot and fighting the war on terror since 9/11. We have been at war, especially our special forces which Marc has been involved with, for 18 years. I love him and respect his service, and he represents so much that is great about this country and I am proud of him in his part of that.”

Matt Evans also has a military background as a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. After completing his service in the Navy, Evans became a pastor and has built Rock Bridge Community Church into one of the largest churches in northwest Georgia.

“I think for both my brother and I, our parents raised us with ‘God and Country’ values,” Matt Evans said. “He is a good brother and good friend and a great American. I am obviously a Christ follower and I know that I am where God wants me to be. Marc is where God wants him to be as well, helping to protect our country. We want to be faithful to where he has placed us.”

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