JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The Secretary of the Army Pete Geren visited Fort Wayne, Indiana's 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry "Nightfighters" on Joint Base Balad Friday to receive updates on their current operations, visit Soldiers, and meet with unit leadership.

Escorted by 3d Sustainment Command Commanding General Brig. Gen. Michael Lally, Secretary Geren traveled to the "Nightfighters'" motor pool and headquarters where he was met by their commander, Lt. Col. Gerald Hadley and Soldiers from the battalion's Delta Company.

"The purpose of the Secretary's visit with us was for him to hear firsthand how our mission of conducting combat logistic patrols was going and to talk to Soldiers and thank them for their service," said Hadley.

"By sitting through one of our mission After Action Reviews, he heard directly from the Soldiers how things are going and what challenges they encounter on their daily missions," added Hadley. After the briefing, Secretary Geren toured unit areas, awarded coins of excellence and posed for pictures with Soldiers from the Huntington, Indiana-based Delta Company.

A highlight of the tour was the Secretary inspecting up-close the combat vehicles utilized by the battalion on their convoy security missions. "I want to thank you for your service and commitment in accomplishing such an important critical mission, "said Geren.

"You can be proud of what you have you accomplished and the difference you have made," he added. It was the first time since the unit arrived in March that they've hosted such a high-ranking visitor.

Despite only recently returning safely from an all-night mission, the unit was all smiles as numerous Soldiers were personally awarded the Secretary's coveted "coin of excellence."

"The soldiers were able to hear directly from the Army's senior leadership the importance of their mission and the gratitude our senior leaders have for what they are doing over here, it was a great morale booster for the unit," said Lt. Col. Hadley.

"The people back in Indiana specifically Huntington and Fort Wayne can be proud of how their soldiers are performing over here. They are getting the tough jobs done day in and day out."