23-year-old U.S. soldier killed in Kenya military base attack went to NIU

DeKALB — A U.S. soldier from the Chicago area among those killed in an attack on a military base in Kenya went to Northern Illinois University before enlisting in the army, confirmed NIU spokesperson Joe King Tuesday.

Henry Mayfield Jr., 23, an army specialist from Hazel Crest, went to NIU for one semester in the fall of 2014.

"Our hearts go out to his family, King said. "We appreciate his service and sacrifice."

The family of Henry Mayfield Jr. of Hazel Crest confirmed his death Monday.

Two other Americans, both contractors with the U.S. Department of Defense, were also killed Sunday by al-Shabab extremists at Manda Bay Airfield.

“I last spoke with him New Year’s Day via FaceTime,” said Mayfield's mother, Carmoneta Horton-Mayfield. “We discussed him not having to go to Somalia and he told me everything was good and safe at his base. He told me everything would be OK. Those were his last words to me.”

Mayfield joined the Army in 2018 and was most recently stationed at Fort Rucker in Alabama, said his father, Henry Mayfield Sr.

He said his son had been in Kenya since October, installing and maintaining heating-and-cooling systems.

“He was looking for better opportunities, but also he enjoyed serving,” Mayfield Sr. said. “He was that kind of kid. He would help. It fit him. It was good for him. He enjoyed being in the Army.”

Al-Shabab, based in neighboring Somalia, claimed responsibility for the assault.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.