Mel Smith was born August 15, 1948 in Helena, Montana. He grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood very similar to the one described in "NAM, The Story of a Generation", on the edge of town, with dirt streets, no sewer service, and one street light on the corner.
He joined the Naval Reserves in the fall of 1966 and started his active duty in July, 1968. He was assigned to the destroyer U.S.S. Taylor out of Pearl Harbor, just after it was deployed on a six month West Pacific tour. On his tour with the Taylor, he was a member of the deck force, the tough ship maintenance division. He transferred to the U.S.S. DeHaven out of Long Beach, California, which left two months later on its own West Pacific tour. On the DeHaven he had the position of Postal Clerk and took over the ship’s post office, the best enlisted duty on the ship. Like all servicemen, he was given an early out in April of 1970, as Nixon was winding down Vietnam.
He returned to Montana State University and completed a B.S. in Film and Television, graduating in June 1973.
Mel Smith currently lives in Arizona with his wife, Alane. He has three children and three grandchildren. He runs his own advertising company, AdSmith and writes in his free time.