While in college at Penn State, Morrell learned of Murphy’s history and accolades, which included the Medal of Honor. Jason S.Ridler from Clarkesworld The magazine described some of Murphy’s exploits in a 2016 article, writing: “[Murphy’s] Medal of Honor commendation noted that in action in France he was alone in calling artillery fire on approaching tanks. When one of its own tank destroyers was hit, it boarded its flaming hull and fired the .50 caliber machine gun. Ridler included a quote in the article saying that Murphy was “alone and exposed to German fire from three sides” at one point. , but its “deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and faltered their infantry attack”.
According to Morrell, he had never really been exposed to many war stories from the United States. He was from Canada and had only come to America to pursue his career as a writer. Ridler quoted Morrell in his article as saying, “The only time I had heard of Vietnam was three years earlier in a 1963 episode of ‘Route 66’.” The episode he watched was about an American soldier returning home from combat and “struggling to stop his war mentality”. Morrell then combined this with Murphy’s life story and wartime exploits, creating “First Blood”.