HAZEL CREST, Ill. — A U.S. soldier from the Chicago area was among three people killed in an attack on a military base in Kenya.
WGN has confirmed that 23-year-old Army Specialist Henry Mayfield Jr. of Hazel Crest was killed Sunday. Mayfield joined the Army in 2018 to help pay for school.
Mayfield Jr.’s father, Henry Mayfield Sr., is heartbroken after hearing the news.
“My son was a great man,” Mayfield Sr. said. “We love and we are going to miss him.”
Mayfield Jr. graduated from Hillcrest High School and briefly attended Northern Illinois University before joining the Army in June 2018 to help pay for school.
"The loss of a child is devastating, no matter how it occurs," said Mayfield's aunt Tawanna Cottenfinner. "This was a senseless act of violence that has changed our lives forever. Our son was a great big brother, cousin, and above all, he was an awesome person. We will miss him tremendously. He brought joy to everyone he came in contact with."
The community is still processing the tragic loss of life, but they’ll be there for family every step of the way.
Hazel Crest Mayor Venard Alsberry Jr. didn’t know the Army specialist, but as a veteran, he understands the sacrifice he made for our country.
“When you first hear it, being a veteran, it just hits your heart so hard,” Alsbery Jr. said.
Members of National Women Veterans United were among those offering their support to the family Monday morning.
"The family lives right down the street from me, and it really breaks my heart to hear we lost another one," said Rochelle Crump.
Crump said the family will need comfort and support in the coming days, especially his mother.
“She’ll have bad days and we know she’ll have bad days, so you don’t get over that quickly,” Crump said. “She needs to know that her son’s service and his death was not in vain.”
Two other Americans, both contractors with the U.S. Department of Defense, were also killed.
Members of the extremist group, al-Shabab, overran an airfield near a U.S. Military base, destroying planes and equipment. The airstrip is near the Somalian border and is used by US forces.
Kenya's military said at least four attackers were killed. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the assault.