Happy Valley High School honors former student with high school diploma

Elizabethton, TN (WJHL) - - On Friday, faculty and staff at Happy Valley High School honored a man who left school when he was 16 years old to join the Navy with an honorary high school diploma for his service to his country.


Kenneth Kelley wanted to fight for his country during the Vietnam war but was only 16 and still a student in school.

During his career, he became the youngest seaman to achieve the rank of Master chief petty officer in the Navy.

It had been more than 60 years since Kelley was able to visit the school and said that being honored with this diploma was one of the proudest moments in his life.

Kelley's family reached out to the staff at the school to see if they could surprise him with the diploma while he was in town visiting them.

He had no idea what his family and the school had waiting for him when he arrived.

"I'm surprised and honored for them to recognize me today. It's been a long time since I was at Happy Valley, it's been 60 years ago," Kelley said.

Kelley lives in Wisconsin where he met his wife and the couple was on their way to Florida for the winter and was stopping by Tennessee to visit his brother.






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