Ringo's childhood was spent largely in transit; by the time (1981) he graduated from Winter Park High School in Winter Park, FL, he and his family had spent time in 23 foreign countries, with Ringo attending classes at fourteen different schools. Among the countries he spent the most amount of time in were Greece, Iran and Switzerland before settling with his parents and six siblings in Alabama. This amount of travel led to what he refers to as a "wonderful appreciation of the oneness of humanity and a permanent aversion to foreign food."
After graduation, Ringo joined the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of Specialist as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. During his four years of active duty, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, reflagged into 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment when the 82nd reorganized its 3rd Brigade, plus two years of reserve duty with the Florida National Guard. Among his awards are the Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Grenada), and the National Defense Service Medal.
After discharge, he enrolled in college and studied marine biology, picking up an associate's degree. However, he quickly discovered that marine biology would only "pay for beans" and became a database manager to support his wife and two daughters. His life had settled into a fairly sedate pattern when, in 1999, he had the idea for a science fiction story that involved an alien invasion and a military response that became the novel A Hymn Before Battle, the title being a homage to the poem "Hymn Before Action" by Rudyard Kipling.
He submitted the novel to publisher Jim Baen of Baen Books. The book was initially rejected, but Jim Baen, through his discussion with John Ringo on the publisher's website forum personally took a look at the novel and quickly bought it. The success of the book, and the books that followed, allowed Ringo to quit his database management job and become a full-time writer. As of 2015, John Ringo had written or co-written (with David Weber, Michael Z. Williamson, Julie Cochrane, Linda Evans, Travis Taylor, and Tom Kratman) 46 novels. One of the appeals of his works is his inclusion of fans' names into novels as "red shirts" who die gloriously. He also has often integrated elements of the 82nd Airborne into his works, 2nd Battalion 325th Airborne Infantry in A Hymn Before Battle, his old 1/508th Parachute Infantry in Yellow Eyes, and the 555th "Triple Nickels/Black Panthers" in Gust Front and its sequels.
He has also penned a number of op-ed pieces for the New York Post, been a guest commentator for Fox News and National Geographic, and is currently working with a screenwriting partner in adapting three of his novels, A Hymn Before Battle, Ghost, and Princess of Wands to the screen.
In 2012, he was presented with the Phoenix Award at DeepSouthCon 50 in Huntsville, Alabama in recognition of his contributions to science fiction literature.
Ringo currently lives in Chattanooga, TN. Before that, he lived in Jefferson, GA from 2003-2005 and Commerce, GA from 1995-2003.