John Hinde was born and raised in Independence, Missouri. His father's life-long friend was Harry S. Truman, who helped John's father find employment. John was inducted into the Army shortly after his high school graduation. He spent some time in Oklahoma, and then was shipped to Europe toward the end of the war, too late for him to see combat. John returned to active duty in 1950 for the Korean War, and served as a platoon leader in a heavy mortar platoon with the 7th Infantry Division in 1951, where he saw considerable action.