Kenneth Lee Worley was born on April 27, 1948 in Farmington, New Mexico. He was orphaned during his early teens, and later lived with an aunt in California. Worley’s living conditions were impoverished and he left school to work as a truck driver in agriculture. After suffering a workplace injury, he was taken in by Don and Rose Feyerherm of Modesto; they became his surrogate family.
Worley volunteered and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on July 14, 1967. After completing recruit and advanced infantry training, he was posted to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment for combat with the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam. Prior to leaving for war, he was promoted to Private First Class.