A 23-year-old United States Army Specialist from Chicago suburb Hazel Crest was one of three people killed when militants attacked a military base in Kenya early Sunday, his family said.
Henry Mayfield Jr. was killed in an attack launched by al-Shabab forces before dawn at Manda Bay Airfield, his family said. Two Defense Department contractors were also killed in the attack, according to Pentagon officials.
Mayfield’s family confirmed his death Sunday evening, saying that military officials had reached out to them that afternoon to report that he had been killed in action.
"He loved his family and spending quality time with his siblings," Carmoneta, Mayfield’s mother, said in an email to NBC 5’s Regina Waldroup. "I last spoke with him New Year’s Day via FaceTime. We discussed him not having to go to Somalia and he told me everything was good and safe at his base.
"He told me everything would be okay. Those were his last words to me," she added.
Mayfield joined the Army after graduating from Hillcrest High School and attending Northern Illinois University. He joined in June 2018 and graduated from basic training in October of that year.
Mayfield was killed during an assault by al-Shabab, a group linked to Al-Qaeda. The group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Pentagon has not yet confirmed their involvement.
Al-Shabab is based in neighboring Somalia, and has launched a number of attacks in Kenya in recent months. The group has been targeted by numerous U.S. airstrikes.