"I can recall being in the Pentagon as an ensign, which is the lowest ranking naval officer, chairing a meeting of 15 or 20 people, all of whom were captains. A captain is an 06 and ensign is an 01. It just didn't make sense," Woods laughed. "But I was the producer, writer, director and they were the experts on the different projects. It was logical that I was chairing the meeting, but I always felt a little bit unnerved."
In between producing four films a year, Woods worked as a technical information officer within the Office of Naval Research, where he pursued basic research on technical information including the stratolab - pre-satellite manned balloon flights that traveled above the Earth's atmosphere - stratoscope - a telescope camera that took the sharpest photos of the sun ever taken - and the Bathyscaphe Trieste - a research craft famous for diving in the Mariana Trench to reach the deepest part of the ocean yet explored - for which he received front-page coverage from The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Following filmmaking, he worked for about six years in the defense industry. Woods then went from Florida back to Washington, D.C., as he was selected to work as a Navy civilian for the Speech Bureau, located on the C-ring of the Pentagon.
It was a particularly timely career change, Woods mused.
"I had been quite a follower of John Kennedy. And he had just been killed," he said. "And he said 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.' He was killed in November and I think I took this job in December."
Woods stayed in Washington for the subsequent 25 years.
During this time, after the Speech Bureau's projects concluded, he was commissioned by the Naval Material Command to write speeches for admirals.
Concurrently, Woods continued his duties with the Naval Reserve, where he served in the category of public affairs. He planned and directed more than half a dozen two-week Navy public speaking seminars and workshops across the country. He also grew involved with more than a dozen international, national and regional naval and military associations. He was active as a board member of the Reserve Officers Association, which eventually led to his one-year presidency of the 126,000-member affiliation. At that position, in 1985, he met President Ronald Reagan.
"Life is pretty much what you make it," Woods said. "The Reserve has given me an opportunity to certainly expand my horizons and do and get into a lot of things that I would never have been able to get into before. If you size your opportunities and make the best of them, they will multiply."
For a decade, Woods, who is often referred to as Navy Dave, served as a Readiness Command PAO and regional program officer. His last significant act of duty within the Reserve was spent aboard the USS Mount Whitney - a major U.S. command ship - above the Arctic Circle off the coast of Norway. For nearly two dozen days, Woods was the Senior PAO for NATO's largest exercise, overseeing reserves on six different U.S., U.K. and Canadian Navy ships.
Not bad, Woods said, for a seaman recruit from San Jose.
In addition to his 30-year career as a civilian Department of the Navy employee, Woods, who has five daughters and five grandchildren, has taught speech classes part-time at several universities, including the University of Maryland, University of Virginia, George Washington University and, now, Marshall University, throughout his life.
And with a life full of experiences, Woods sure has stories to tell.
When he was a khaki uniform ensign flying out of National Airport, now Reagan National Airport, Woods noticed a striking woman and could not help but admire her. In doing so, he bumped into the man she was with, who happened to be Sen. Jack Kennedy.
"Of course he's no fool, he knew that I was looking at his wife, that's why I ran into him," Woods said. "I said 'oh, excuse me, senator, I wasn't looking where I was going.' And he looked at me and gave me that glint look he has and a big smile and said, 'That's all right son, I was an ensign once myself.'"
Though he served four years on active duty and continued to have a 40-year career in the Navy, serving in at least 30 states and 13 nations, Woods is not eligible for membership in the VFW or American Legion, as he did not serve on active duty in a period of national emergency.
Still, for Woods, whose title is now Captain, USNR, Ret. David Woods, nothing compares to the Navy.
"By and large, I have had a chance to work on interesting subjects in interesting places and try and interest, generally, sometimes the public audience, sometimes the private audience," Woods said. "I don't know that I would have done much of anything very different if I had the chance to do it over."