The lives of American troops, like Spc. Henry Mayfield, are on the line

U.S. soldiers are deployed around the world, and it is comforting to believe that in most of those lands they are ‘good and safe.’ But in the asymmetrical warfare of the 21st Century, that is less true than ever.

SHARE The lives of American troops, like Spc. Henry Mayfield, are on the line
Army Specialist Henry Mayfield Jr. with his mother Carmoneta Horton-Mayfield. | Facebook

Army Specialist Henry Mayfield Jr. with his mother Carmoneta Horton-Mayfield. | Facebook

On New Year’s Day, U.S. Army Spc. Henry Mayfield told his mother back home in south suburban Hazel Crest that everything was fine.

He was “good and safe” at a military airfield in Kenya, he told his mother over Facetime, and they talked about his not having to go to Somalia, a country swarming with terrorists.

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Five days later, Spc. Mayfield was dead.

He and two other Americans were killed Sunday in an attack on the air base by militants aligned with al-Qaida, the terrorist group responsible for 9/11.

Mitch, as friends called him, was just 23.

American soldiers are deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, and it is comforting to believe that in most of those lands — such as Germany, Poland, Norway and, yes, Kenya — they are, to be sure, “good and safe.” But in the asymmetrical warfare of the 21st Century, this is less true than ever.

More than ever, war can come to them — and to us.

Spc. Mayfield was killed when al-Shabab fighters, who in Somalia have waged an insurgency against a U.S.-backed government, took the battle to Kenya. They overran the Manda Bay airfield, where about 200 U.S. troops are stationed.

Spc. Mayfield was a good man. After studying business at Northern Illinois University for a year, he joined the Army for the best of reasons — to serve others and pay for the rest of his college education.

As our nation moves closer to another war, this time with Iran, we dare not forget:

More fine young men and women like Mitch Mayfield will die.

And this war may come to us.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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