|Then-PFC Jennifer Manning preparing to|
pat down Afghan women during a cordon-
and-search operation in Gardez, Afghanistan.
A black and white version of this same photo
appears in the book Warrior Police, which
will help finance some of Valhalla Project's
operating costs in the coming years.
We first met then-Private First Class Manning in Gardez, Afghanistan where she was working as a gunner for the 92nd Military Police Company in the Spring of 2010. She is briefly mentioned several times in the book Warrior Police and ironically was one of the Soldiers who somewhat accidently helped inspire the Valhalla Project concept itself.
Even as a young enlisted Soldier she took us under her wing during our embed, making us feel both welcome and safe. Valhalla will return that favor for her and many other Soldiers.
Jen is now preparing to deploy back to Afghanistan again early next year with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion (1st Infantry Division) and therefore has a lot on her plate, to say the least. Yet after many months of regularly instant messaging with us over Facebook and staying in contact, she really wanted to come see the new pilot property with her own two eyes. And since she'll be on her second tour when Valhalla is officially opened next spring, it was decided that she should at least have the chance to participate in this initial preparatory phase while becoming the first official Valhalla Soldier.
Challenge: the growing Guinea fowl flock didn't have a secure outdoor coop to sleep in at night, three of the 18 went missing over the last few days (and may have been snatched up by owls, coyotes or other predators), while Valhalla has nine younger keets that are quickly outgrowing their brooder.
Mission: build a secure Guinea Fowl Palace in the unused space under the deck at the back of the house, then move both the keets and young adults into it without getting maimed. Jen accepted this specific mission weeks ago for her long Columbus Day weekend while knowing full well that it might involve sweat, effort, creativity, and possible exposure to small quantities of poultry manure.
"After Action Report"
|Old habits die hard. Jen and Gordon stacked to |
clear the coop before introduction of birds.
|The completed Guinea Fowl Palace.|
Then the hardest part of all: transporting the nine keets from their brooder upstairs. I crawled into their 2' high brooder on my hands and knees to shoo them into a corner where Jen and Gordon could grab them - it was a messy job as the frantic birds panicked, landed on my back, and otherwise attempted to evade capture.
|Special duty: sprinkling feed around to calm the|
keets as they adjusted to their new home.
Meanwhile, we'll be working on getting the necessary gear to help make her vision into a reality!