Ronald Stokes was born in East Orange, New Jersey in 1946. He grew up in East Orange, attending public schools and participating in the Boy Scouts of America. He briefly attended Central State University. After enlisting in the U.S. Army, he went to basic and advanced infantry training at Fort Dix. He then applied to Officer Candidate School and was accepted by the Transportation School at Fort Eustis, Virginia. He received his commission as an officer in 1967. From May 1968 to May 1969, he served in Vietnam. After returning to the U.S., he went to the Transportation Officers' Advanced Course at Fort Eustis. Upon graduation, he was sent Korea as a company commander and was stationed there from 1971 to 1972. In 1973, he returned to the U.S. and was assigned the role of Military Traffic Management Command in Bayonne. He remained at this assignment until active duty ended for him in 1975 at the rank of captain. While Stokes was off duty for three months, he started attending classes at Rutgers-Newark and later graduated in 1983 with a degree in management. He became a Cub Scoutmaster in Boy Scouts and worked at BASF as a plant traffic manager for fourteen years. He served in the Reserves for fifteen years until he retired in 1990 at the rank of lieutenant colonel. For over twenty years, he worked at Mobil, later known as Exxon-Mobil. After retiring, he started a part-time consulting business. He is active in numerous veterans groups, including the New York-New Jersey Chapter of the First Cavalry Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also supports the Vietnam Veterans of America, the USO, and the Army Emergency Relief.