Mel returned from Vietnam and found that soldiers were not welcomed in the US. That caused him to bury thoughts of combat, deep. With no professional help he took to writing in his basement office. Writing became his salvation and joy.
Writing let him go back to a time when he rode a white stallion with Roy and Gene, solved the mysteries of Cabin Island and The House on the Cliff with the Hardy Boys, and trailed west with mountain men and cowboys in Zane Grey novels.
Over the years he wrote stories of hitching across the country, drinking from a semi-driver’s bottle of Vodka as they wheeled down a tiny west Texas highway, eating hot beignets at Café Du Monde, sharing cheese and sourdough bread with tourists in a Sausalito park, and sitting around a fountain in San Francisco with a bunch of hippies and talking long into the night. He wrote about everything but combat.
By 2016 Mel had written the above stories and about his pre-combat military experiences. In 2016 a VA psychiatrist helped him remove the cloak of silence that had kept all mention of combat off-limits. Once that cloak was removed, Command at Dawn was on its way to completion.