Two contingency locations within Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa’s combined joint operations area recently named facilities in honor of U.S. Army Spc. Henry J. “Mitch” Mayfield Jr., who was killed in action Jan. 5, 2020, during an attack on Manda Bay Airfield, Kenya, by a terrorist organization.
On May 1, Baledogle Military Airfield, Somalia (BMA), held a grand opening ceremony for the Henry Mayfield Jr. Dining Facility. On May 21, the Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility at Manda Bay was officially renamed as the Henry J. Mayfield Jr. Recreation Center.
Two Department of Defense contractors, Mr. Bruce Triplett and Mr. Dustin Harrison, also lost their lives during the attack at Manda Bay. The attack was carried out by al-Shabaab, a designated terrorist group that has repeatedly communicated an intent to attack U.S. interests and partners in East Africa.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Keith Haskin, commander of the 1st Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment, Mayfield’s deployed unit, said he thought it was important to rename the facilities not only to honor Mayfield’s sacrifice, but to inspire the future soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who will utilize the facilities.
“Henry was not only a great soldier, he was also a very good friend to many in the battalion,” Haskin said. “He is someone that all of the soldiers within 1-58th will always remember. But we want others to remember his sacrifice as well.”
“I think that BMA also naming a facility for him shows that the impact he had on our Soldiers stretches well beyond the team he worked with at Manda Bay. It is also indicative of the outpouring of support that the entire Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and Camp Lemonnier (CLDJ) community showed to the battalion and our Soldiers during the days following the attack at Manda Bay.”
The process to rename the MWR facility at Manda Bay began in February and was initiated because Mayfield spent most of his free time there, said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryan Nelson, BMA airfield manager.
The idea to name the new dining facility at BMA came about shortly after construction on the facility started in January, according to U.S. Army Capt. DelChrisha Young, the CJTF-HOA Logistics Directorate contracting officer representative.
“I came up with the idea of naming the DFAC (dining facility) after Spc. Mayfield from the history of dining facilities being named after our brave service members that paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country,” she said. “Also, a large majority of his unit is deployed to BMA, and I knew this dedication would mean so much to them. They had nothing but good things to say about Spc. Mayfield, and I believed that should be celebrated for years to come.”
The memorial in BMA’s dining facility also includes a hand-drawn portrait of Mayfield, along with a pair of combat boots, an Army combat helmet, dog tags and a Purple Heart medal.
Also on the memorial is a photograph of him with a phrase that those who knew Mayfield heard many times: “We are here for a good time, not a long time,” according to the artist and Mayfield’s coworker, U.S. Army Spc. Susan Orozco.
“He always had a positive outlook, and he had a huge impact on everyone around him because of it,” she said. “Even though we weren’t that close, I felt destroyed after his death, which is why I made the drawing. I wanted everyone to know who he was.”
Throughout the entire process of naming both facilities, Mayfield’s family expressed their gratitude that he has been memorialized, and that hopefully his story will inspire other service members, Haskin said.
“His family was honored to hear about the DFAC, as well as the MWR building in Manda Bay being named after Henry,” he said. “They are happy that others will remember him and his actions in support of his country.”
U.S. Africa Command’s desired end state in East Africa is one in which terrorist organizations are not able to threaten the U.S. homeland, U.S. persons, international allies, or destabilize the region. The command recognizes that stability will not be achieved through purely military means, and works with partner forces on a daily basis to create security conditions that enhance governance and economic development.