Dave grew up in Indiana, graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served during the Cold War aboard submarines. He was initially assigned to the diesel submarine USS Trumpetfish (SS 425) in Charleston as Engineer Officer, and then aboard a series of nuclear submarines including the George Washington Carver (SSBN 656) commissioning crew in Norfolk, New London and Rota, Spain in various junior officer billets, the USS Nautilus (SSN 571) in New London as Engineer Officer, and as Executive Officer of the USS Haddo (SSN 604) on the east (Pascagoula) and west (San Diego) coasts. He then was the Commanding Officer of the USS Plunger (SSN 595) operating out of the ports of San Diego and Bremerton, Washington for four years including two year-long Western-Pacific patrols, before serving as the submarine personnel officer in Hawaii.
Dave then directed American, Japanese, Australian and British submarines against the Soviet Union as the Commander of Submarine Group Seven in Yokosuka, Japan. He followed this by duty as Chief of Staff of the Seventh Fleet. After selection to the rank of admiral he became responsible for plans and policy in the Pentagon and then it was back to San Diego for this family to manage training the attack submarines on the West Coast. He returned to the Pentagon to become responsible for the Navy Program (budget) during the four transition years following the Cold War. Finally he was the Principal Deputy, Acquisition, Research and Logistics before retiring in 1995.
After working as an executive at Westinghouse and Northrop Grumman, Dave was appointed by President Clinton as Principal Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Subsequently, after Dave left government and ran his own business for two years until President Bush appointed him as the Director of Management and Budget and special advisor for the Finance Minister for the Coalition Forces in Iraq.
Leaving the government except for advisory roles, Dave worked for a decade as the Chief of Staff of the Airbus effort to serve the US Defense markets before he retired to write full time.