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Defense Secretary Mattis makes surprise visit to his former middle school

Before he was the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis was a student at Chief Joseph Middle School in Richland, Wash. He paid tribute to those roots by touring his alma mater and inspiring students.

SCREENSHOT VIA RICHLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT/FACEBOOK

By SARA SCHILLING | The Tri-City Herald | Published: November 16, 2018

RICHLAND, Wash. (Tribune News Service) — Before he was the U.S. Secretary of Defense, he was a student at Chief Joseph Middle School in Richland.

Jim Mattis paid tribute to those roots on Friday by touring his alma mater and inspiring students.

He visited some classrooms, talked about his job and encouraged students to work hard, the Richland School District reported.

“Without an education, you don’t know where you’re starting, and if you don’t know where you’re starting, you don’t know where to go,” Mattis told students, according to a district news release.

His visit to the school wasn’t publicly announced until after it was over.

Mattis, a retired Marine general who became secretary of defense last year, grew up in Richland.

He graduated from Columbia High School — now called Richland High — in 1968.

Chief Jo students were interested in Mattis’ time at their school, the district said.

They also peppered him with questions about his military service and his current role, the district said.

“All of our students are capable of going on to remarkable lives, and there’s no better way to drive that message home than to have them meet someone who attended their school and has done just that,” said Principal Kevin Norris in the news release.

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©2018 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)
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