A U.S. Army specialist killed with two other Americans in an attack Sunday by al-Qaida-aligned militants in Kenya has been identified by his family.
Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., 23, from the Chicago suburb of Hazel Crest, was among the three Americans killed in the early morning attack. “He loved his family and spending quality time with his siblings,” Mayfield’s mother, Carmoneta, told NBC 5 Sunday evening.
She said she last spoke with her son on New Year’s Day over Facetime.
“We discussed him not having to go to Somalia and he told me everything was good and safe at his base,” Carmoneta Mayfield told the network. “He told me everything would be okay. Those were his last words to me.”
She also thanked hundreds of well-wishers on Facebook, asking them to keep her family in their prayers.
Mayfield joined the Army in June 2018, NBC 5 reported. His Facebook page lists him stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala.
Mayfield and two Defense Department contractors were killed in Kenya after their military base was overrun by al-Shabab fighters. The Pentagon, which waits until at least 24 hours after notification of next of kin, has not yet released the names of the victims.
Two other Defense Department personnel were injured in the attacks at the Kenyan military’s Manda Bay airfield. They were in stable condition and evacuated for treatment, officials said.
The U.S. has about 200 troops in Kenya and roughly 100 nonuniformed personnel. Manda Bay airfield also is near Camp Simba, where other American troops are based.
The small outposts play a role in U.S. counterterrorism operations in Somalia, where al-Shabab has been waging a yearslong insurgency against a U.S.-backed government.
The militants stormed the Kenyan compound with indirect and small-arms fire, U.S. Africa Command said. The fighters overran the base but U.S. and Kenyan forces eventually repelled the attack.
Five U.S. aircraft were destroyed and one was damaged during the attack.
“The aircraft were a combination of fixed wing and rotary,” Navy Lt. Christina M. Gibson said in a statement.
Six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were also damaged, AFRICOM said.