A 23-year-old U.S soldier was among three Americans killed in a terrorist attack at Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya on Sunday.
Army Specialist Henry Mayfield Jr. was killed in an attack mounted by the organization Al-Shabab, as reported by ABC. Two American contractors in the Department of Defense were also killed in the attack.
The Department of Defense confirmed the young man’s death and said he was in Kenya as part of Operation Octave Shield.
The African Command, Africom, released a statement regarding the attack: The attack “involved indirect and small arms fire. After an initial penetration of the perimeter, Kenya Defense Forces and U.S. Africa Command repelled the al-Shabaab attack. Reports indicate that six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were damaged to some degree. Manda Bay Airfield is utilized by U.S. forces whose missions include providing training to our African partners, responding to crises, and protecting U.S. interests in this strategically important area.”
Family members plan to bring their son’s body home from Dover Air Force BAse Monday. He is expected to arrive in his home town of Hazel Crest, Illinois where he will be honored as a hero.
“My son was a great man and we love him and we’re going to miss him,” said his father Henry Mayfield.
Mayfield’s aunt, Tawanna Cotten Finner, gave a statement from the family Monday morning.
“At this time, we would like to say thank you for all your kind words that we have received. The loss of a child is devastating no matter how it occurs. 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 into contact with. We will miss that joy. At this time, we are asking for time to grieve in privacy.”
Al-Shabab claimed that there were 17 U.S. casualties, nine Kenyan soldiers killed and seven aircraft destroyed. The U.S. Africa command dismissed the al-Shabab claims as exaggerated and said U.S. and Kenyan forces repelled the attack.