A service member and two DoD contractors died after an attack on U.S. and Kenyan positions at Manda Bay, Kenya, on Sunday.by Kyle Rempfer Jan 6th 2020 · 2 min read
Militants from the terrorist group Al-Shabab attacked and briefly gained entry to a small U.S. base in eastern Kenya recently, killing three Americans and burning planes on the airstrip. Hometown media has reported the name of the soldier killed in Kenya this weekend, citing the mother as a source.
The Pentagon has yet to identify the fallen soldier and Fort Rucker officials declined to confirm the reports, citing Defense Department policy to wait until the notification process is complete.
The soldier was reported as 23-year-old Army Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., according to NBC 5 in Chicago. Mayfield is a native of the Chicago suburb Hazel Crest, according to the outlet.
A service member and two DoD contractors died after an attack on Manda Bay Airfield, in Kenya, on Sunday, according to U.S. Africa Command. Two other Defense Department members were also injured in the attack, but remain in stable condition.
Mayfield’s mother, Carmoneta, said that she last spoke with her son during the New Years holiday.
“We discussed him not having to go to Somalia and he told me everything was good and safe at his base,” Carmoneta told NBC 5. “He told me everything would be okay. Those were his last words to me.”
The attack was carried out by al-Shabab, a regional al-Qaeda franchise that the United States and East African partners have been battling in Somalia.
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The attack on the compound and airstrip at Manda Bay involved indirect and small arms fire, AFRICOM officials said in a statement. The militants managed to penetrate the perimeter of the base before U.S. and Kenyan forces repelled the attackers.
“Reports indicate that six contractor-operated civilian aircraft were damaged to some degree,” the command’s statement reads. “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.”
AFRICOM spokesman Air Force Col. Christopher Karns said the attack was not linked to tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Gen. Stephen Townsend, AFRICOM commander, offered condolences in a statement following the attack.
“As we honour their sacrifice, let’s also harden our resolve," Townsend said. "Alongside our African and international partners, we will pursue those responsible for this attack and al-Shabab, who seeks to harm Americans and US interests.”
The incident is the first known al-Shabab attack against U.S. forces inside Kenya, however the militant group has skirmished with U.S. troops before. Army Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad was killed by al-Shabab mortar fire in June 2018 in Jubaland, about 220 miles southwest of Mogadishu, Somalia.
The U.S. mission in Somalia primarily involves targeting militants through airstrikes and training an elite partner force known as Danab. The number of U.S. airstrikes in Somalia have increased during President Donald Trump’s administration.