John Tredrea, the grandson of British immigrants, was born and raised in the Chicago area. He attended the University of Illinois in Champagne and graduated with honours in social studies in 1967 with ancient and medieval history as his speciality. On graduation, he did a two-year tour of active duty in the US Navy during the Vietnam War, primarily in the Tonkin Gulf, followed by an additional four years as an enlisted reservist. From 1972 he was employed, eventually as a bilingual English/Spanish language supervisor, by the Illinois Department of Human Services until qualifying for early retirement in 2002. He is the co-author of Russian Warships in the Age of Sail with a Russian colleague Ted Sozaev. His great love and hobby has always been naval history, with an emphasis on the technical evolution of warships, and it was his initiative that assembled the team that produced Spanish Warships.