After graduating from high school in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 1968, Mel joined the US Navy and volunteered for submarine duty. He "qualified" on two submarines, Cusk SS-348 and the Permit SSN-594. As a member of the Permit crew, Mel participated in several covert operations. In 1995 Mel joined United States Submarine Veterans, Incorporated (USSVI) and is a founding member of the USSVI - Great Lakes Base.
After leaving the US Navy, Mel first earned an Engineering degree, then a Business degree and finally an MBA. In 2003 Mel founded “Cold War Submarines”, an internet-based business proving custom-built submarine “replicas” for US Navy submarine veterans.
Each submarine “replica” is custom-built for an individual submarine veteran and is accurate for the specific time period the veteran served on the submarine. As of 2011, Mel has researched and built over 600 Cold War Submarine replicas. An “owner registry” at www.coldwarsubmarines.com lists everyone who has purchased a replica.