Kenneth Lee Worley
Lance Corporal
L CO, 3RD BN, 7TH MARINES, 1ST MARDIV, III MAF
United States Marine Corps
Modesto, California
April 27, 1948 to August 12, 1968
KENNETH L WORLEY is on the Wall at Panel W48, Line 1

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Kenneth L Worley
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Kenneth L Worley

LCPL KENNETH LEE WORLEY

 

"All the photos I send are to honor my fellow Marines....my brothers."

-- Walter Dampier, 10/30/2012

Worley was born on April 27, 1948, in Farmington, New Mexico where his mother and stepfather left him there with relatives when they moved to Oregon not long after he was born. His mother died in 1950 at age 36 from cancer and kidney failure. Worley completed the 8th grade at Farmington Elementary School in 1962. He moved to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and attended Hot Spring High School there for two years. Next he moved to Modesto, California, at age sixteen to live with an aunt. The conditions there were poor for Worley; he lived in a travel trailer with no running water or electricity.

Instead of going to school, he worked as a truck driver, hauling loads of Christmas trees out of the mountains. After injuring his foot at work, he was taken in by Don and Rose Feyerherm of Modesto. They treated him like a son and became his foster parents.

Worley enlisted in the Marine Corps in Fresno, California in June 1967 and received recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Upon completion of recruit training in August 1967, PVT Worley was transferred to Camp Pendleton, California where he underwent individual combat training and basic infantry training, completing that training in October. He was promoted to PFC in November 1967 and later that month, was ordered to the Vietnam.

Upon arrival, he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He served first as a rifleman with Company I, then with Headquarters and Service Company, and then with Company L as a machine gunner. He was promoted to Lance corporal in May 1968.

While serving with Company L on August 12, 1968, he was killed in action, saving five fellow Marines by his actions. Two years later he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

The Medal of Honor citation for Lance Corporal Worley reads:

Navy MOH
The President of the United States in the name of the Congress of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to

LANCE CORPORAL KENNETH LEE WORLEY
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner with Company L, 3d Battalion, in action against enemy forces. After establishing a night ambush position in a house in the Bo Ban, Hamlet of Quang Nam Province, security was set up and the remainder of the patrol members retired until their respective watch. During the early morning hours of 12 August 1968, the Marines were abruptly awakened by the platoon leader's warning that "grenades" had landed in the house. Fully realizing the inevitable result of his actions, L/Cpl. Worley, in a valiant act of heroism, instantly threw himself upon the grenade nearest him and his comrades, absorbing with his body, the full and tremendous force of the explosion. Through his extraordinary initiative and inspiring valor in the face of almost certain death, he saved his comrades from serious injury and possible loss of life although 5 of his fellow marines incurred minor wounds as the other grenades exploded. Lance Corporal Worley's gallant actions upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

RICHARD M. NIXON
President of the United States

-- The Virtual Wall

Decades after he threw himself on a grenade to save five fellow Marines in Vietnam War, a Marine with humble beginnings in Farmington at last is getting some hometown recognition. The Albuquerque Journal reports that 20-year-old Kenneth Lee Worley was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor two years after he died in Vietnam.

Despite that, Worley's name and death went virtually unrecognized in his hometown of Farmington and New Mexico as a whole, for nearly 40 years, partially because of how poor and transitory his family was, causing them to abandon Kenneth.

According to a 2012 news article, "Bruce Salisbury of Aztec, a retired Air Force master sergeant, has spent the better part of the last decade trying to get Worley to be properly honored in the state."

In 2009, a plaque honoring Worley was installed at Farmington's All Veterans Memorial Park. And last month, Farmington Mayor declared February 29, 2012 as "Kenneth Lee Worley Day of Remembrance". Plans are under way to erect a life-sized bronze statue of Worley for display somewhere in the state.

Worley is finally being memorialized in his hometown but Salisbury hopes the state will follow suit by adding him to the Wall of Honor at the state Capitol. The wall honors 13 Medal of Honor recipients with ties to New Mexico.

Worley is among 34 Marines who are the subject of a book published in 2011, "The Search for the Forgotten Thirty-Four," by Terence W. Barrett. The book explores the lives of Marines who received the Medal of Honor but have gone largely unrecognized in their hometowns. Read of the efforts to recognize Worley in 2009 article here and the 2012 article here.

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