Crusader Staff Report
The body of 23-year-old Army Specialist Henry Mayfield Jr. on Wednesday, January 15, returned to his hometown more than a week after he was among three people killed at a military base in Kenya, January 4.
A procession of at least 50 police vehicles from different Chicago area cities escorted the hearse that carried Mayfield’s body to the Hazel Crest Municipal Center, capping a 40-mile journey from O’Hare Airport where it arrived by military transport.
The procession passed under a bridge on I-57 near 159th where two firetrucks held a large American flag. The procession stopped at Hillcrest High School, where Mayfield graduated in 2014. Hundreds of students lined the street and waved American flags and held signs as the procession went by.
A visitation is scheduled Friday, January 17 from noon to 8 p.m. at the Doty Nash Funeral Home, 8620 S. Stony Island.
A viewing at 9:30 a.m. and a special Purple Heart Ceremony at 10:30 a.m. are scheduled before Mayfield’s funeral at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 18 at the House of Hope, 752 E. 114th Street.
Mayfield was scheduled to be buried at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood.
One day before Mayfield’s body returned home, school districts and churches in and around Hazel Crest said a silent prayer as yellow ribbons around trees lined the streets, and flags flew at half-staff in his memory.
During a ceremony at the Hazel Crest Municipal Center, Village President and Air Force veteran Vernard Alsberry Jr. declared January 14 as “Henry Mayfield Jr. Day.”
Alsberry said the community came together to support Mayfield’s family and to “celebrate the life of a person who gave the ultimate sacrifice not only for our community, but for our country.”
“We wanted them to know that we’re with them 110 percent and that our village is dedicated to his family and to him,” Alsberry said.
“They came from all different communities around the area…it was just overwhelming, and it shows people support each other,” said Alsberry, a veteran who served 10 years in the Air Force.
“I think it touches all of us veterans who actually make it home,” he added. “At any time, something can happen to you.”
Dozens of other veterans also attended Mayfield’s memorial.
Mayfield’s grandmother Annette Horton clutched the proclamation dedicating Tuesday to her grandson, sharing how grateful she was for the support from the community— but adding that it will take time to heal.
“I’m hurting real hard about my grandbaby,” Horton said. “Little Henry was a beautiful young man. I’m just thankful he was a hero.”