John Proctor was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, one of the foremost military towns in the United States. After completing the public school education in San Antonio, John received a degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Texas in Austin. Subsequently, he worked in the oil and gas fields of Texas and New Mexico.
While attending the University of Texas, John also received a commission in the Air Force Reserve through the ROTC program. Subsequently, John entered active service in the Air Force during the Korean War. After a discharge from the Air Force, John remained in the active reserve for more than 25 years. While in the Air Force Reserve he completed the curriculum of the Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College by correspondence. He was ultimately promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.