David B. Smith was born in 1941 in Watertown, New York, and grew up in various locations, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Germany, due to his father's military career. After attending the Peddie School, Smith enrolled in Rutgers University, eventually earning his B.S. in Social Studies Education (1963) and his M.A. in Geography (1965). After ROTC, Smith embarked on a career in the US Army, serving tours in Vietnam in the Transportation Corps (1965-1966; 1968-1969) and Greece in Military Intelligence (1971-1973; 1979-1982; 1985-1989) during his 28 year tenure in the military. Smith trained at the Defense Language Institute and he and his wife spoke fluent Greek. After his retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1993, Smith taught in public schools in Fairfax County, Virginia.