An Illinois mother is in mourning after her son, a United States Army specialist, was gunned down by militant extremists in Kenya.
Spc. Henry “Mitch” Mayfield Jr. was one of three persons killed in a pre-dawn raid at a military air base close to the Indian Ocean coast and not far from the border with Somalia, NBC Chicago reported. The attack, which also claimed the lives of two Defense Department contractors, unfolded at the Manda Bay Airfield.
Relatives of the slain soldier confirmed his death on Sunday, saying they were contacted by military officials that afternoon to report that Mayfield had been killed in action.
Mayfield’s mother, Carmoneta Horton-Mayfield, recalled FaceTiming with her son on New Years Eve. It was the last time they spoke.
“We discussed him not having to go to Somalia and he told me everything was good and safe at his base,” Horton-Mayfield recalled. “He told me that everything would be OK. Those were his last words to me.”
Before joining the Army in 2014, Mayfield grew up in the Chicago suburb of Hazel Crest where he graduated from Hillcrest High School and continued his education at Northern Illinois University. His mother said the 23-year-old loved spending time with his family.
In an emotional Facebook post, Horton-Mayfield thanked everyone for their kind words and prayers during this difficult time.
“Thank you to all that have reached out to my husband and I with your touching words regarding the loss of our son Army specialist Henry Mayfield Jr,” she wrote. “We may not be able to respond to them all at this time but we feel the love and we appreciate you all. Please keep our family in prayer.”
Mayfield was killed during an assault by al-Shabab, a Somalia-based Islamic insurgent group associated with al-Qaeda. On Monday, his parents traveled to the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to collect his remains before heading back to Chicago, according to CBS Chicago.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Watch more in the video below.