Mr. Mele was born in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up there and in Washington Heights in Manhattan. After graduating from Bronx Vocational, he attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY.
He left the Academy to enlist in the US Navy in 1943 and went through boot camp at Newport News, RI, and diesel engine school in Richmond, VA. He joined the crew of the LST-686 as it was being built in Indiana and served during its shakedown period in the Gulf of Mexico.
The LST-686 joined the Pacific Fleet and took part in the invasions of Leyte, Mindanao and Mindoro in the Philippines and the invasion of Okinawa. After the war, the ship engaged in missions to repatriate Koreans to Korea, Chinese to China and Japanese prisoners of war to Japan from around the former Japanese Empire.
After being discharged, he used the GI Bill for vocational training as a Linotype operator. Following several years of working as a Linotype operator, he transitioned into a career in sales.