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Groom attended the University of Alabama in the early 1960s, where he edited both the school's humor and literary magazines. He then served in Vietnam from 1966-68, an experience he has continued to share with his readers over the years. When he first came back from the war, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he found his way into a reporting job for the old Washington Star newspaper. He remained with the paper through the mid 1970s, at which point he began his carreer as an author.