Dan Pedersen entered the U.S. Navy in 1953. He was the senior officer in the group of nine men who formed the Navy's legendary "Topgun" program at Naval Air Station Miramar in March 1969. He served in combat during the Vietnam War, with a flying cruise on USS Hancock (CVA-19) and three on USS Enterprise (CVN-65). He retired as a captain, having accumulated 6,100 flight hours and 1,005 carrier landings while flying 39 types of aircraft. He lives with his wife outside San Diego.