HAZEL CREST, Ill. — The body of Army Specialist Henry "Mitch" Mayfield Jr. has returned home to the Chicago area Wednesday.
Family members, veterans and residents of south suburban Hazel Crest gathered Tuesday to honor the service of Mayfield, Jr., a 23-year-old who was one of three killed during a terror attack on a U.S. base in Kenya on Jan. 5.
Mayfield Jr.'s casket arrived at O'Hare Airport shortly after noon.
Retired State Command Sgt Major Howard O. Robinsson was part of the group to greet Mayfield’s body when it landed.
“It was my duty. I had to be here,” he said. “I would have not had it any other way. I had to be here.”
From O’Hare, the procession made the long journey south to Mayfield’s alma mater, Hillcrest High School in Country Club Hills.
A hush fell over the students as they lined up along 175th Street to pay their respects.
Student leaders said it was important for the entire school to show their support for Mayfield’s family and for his younger brother who is a Junior at Hillcrest.
“It shows how tightly our community is packed together and how great we support each other no matter what,” Senior Dezaray English said. “People that didn’t know him like myself, we banded together to show his family support and friends and whomever else knew him.”
From the school, the procession headed to Hazel Crest Village Hall where a short ceremony was held.
His father summoned enough strength to say thank you to those who came out to honor his son.
“My son was a great kid,” he said. “(It’s) just very appreciative.”
A wake will be held Friday at Doty Nash Funeral Home on 86th Street and Stony Island in Chicago. His funeral is Saturday at the House of Hope. He will be buried at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood.