HAZEL CREST, Ill. — A suburban community is in mourning Tuesday as it rallies around the family of a soldier who gave his life for his country.
Family members, veterans and residents of south suburban Hazel Crest gathered Tuesday to honor the service of Henry "Mitch" Mayfield, Jr., a 23-year-old Army specialist who was one of three killed during a terror attack on a U.S. base in Kenya on January 5.
School districts and churches in and around Hazel Crest said a silent prayer Tuesday morning. Yellow ribbons line the streets, and flags fly at half staff in his memory.
During a ceremony at the Hazel Crest municipal center, Village President and Air Force veteran Vernard Alsberry Jr. declared January 14 as "Henry Mayfield Jr. Day." Alsberry said the community came together to, "celebrate the life of a person who gave the ultimate sacrifice not only for our community, but for our country." And to support his family.
"We wanted them to know that we’re with them 110 percent and that our village dedicated to his family and to him," Alsberry said.
Mayfield's body is being flown home this week, and will be escorted by law enforcement from O'Hare Airport after arriving on a military transport Wednesday.
His grandmother Annette Horton says the family is going through a lot right now, but take comfort in the support they have received from the community.
"This is very painful... he was gone 105 days, he walked out the door into a war zone," Horton said. "He did it for his country... he made up his mind that he wanted to do this."
There were plenty of hugs for his parents, who were too distraught to talk. Family members say Mayfield joined the army to help pay for college, but ended up making the ultimate sacrifice.
"We’re all hurting and I miss him so much, he was very loved, you can see that and he had his whole life ahead of him," Horton said.
There will be a visitation Friday at Doty Nash funeral home in Chicago, and Henry "Mitch" Mayfield, Jr.'s funeral will be Saturday at House of Hope. He will be laid to rest at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery outside of Joliet.