Jared Hastings found that becoming a commissioned officer with the United States Marine Corps has afforded him the best of both worlds.
“I got to do the two things I love — go to school and be a Marine.”
Hastings, 25, who now carries degrees in chemistry and business, earned his commission to become a Marine officer at a ceremony May 17 in Lawrence.
Next up for Hastings is his assignment to the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Va., where he awaits an opening for an 18-month stint in the Naval Aviation School in Pensacola, Fla. He and his family headed out today from their Lawrence home to Virginia.
“From there, I’ll go wherever the Marine Corps needs me,” Hastings said.
He expects to be deployed overseas: “My family doesn’t like me to say it this way, but our only job is to deploy and fight,” he said. “The training gets redundant.”
And if his family has its druthers, his overseas deployment will include a stay in Japan, which appeals to both Jared and his wife, FayAnna.
THE 2003 Iola High School graduate enlisted in the Corps that September with the full intention of serving four years and then pursuing a career in the private sector.
Hastings completed his basic training in San Diego and served in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and Indian Head, Md.
Two things changed.
“First, I found out I loved being in the Marine Corps,” he said.
More importantly, he saw the educational opportunities for Marines through MECEP, the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, which allowed him to pursue his educational and military degrees simultaneously at the University of Kansas.
As part of his commitment, Hastings also served as part of KU’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, where he was a company’s executive officer and his battalion’s commanding officer.
The schooling, Hastings explained, essentially instilled in him leadership skills.
“They show you all the weapons we have at our disposal and how to use the Marine Corps the right way,” he said.
He won’t know for the next year or so whether the schooling will put him at the controls of helicopters or jets. If he earns certification to fly helicopters, a six-year commitment will follow; flying jets requires an eight-year commitment.
Either way, by the time that’s done Hastings will be more than halfway to his 20-year commitment to the Corps, which would qualify him to retire before reaching the ripe age of 50.
“Part of staying with the Marines is because I’m afraid to go out and get a real job,” he joked. “I get paid to work out and shoot guns.”
He turns serious.
“Actually, the Marine Corps has provided us with a great family life,” Hastings said. “I don’t see any reason to get out.”
“I don’t know that I was very excited about Jared joining the Marines at first,” FayAnna Hastings said. “But having lived it, I’m very excited about the future. I have faith that wherever my husband goes, he’ll come home.”
FayAnna Hastings is the former FayAnna Cook, a 2002 IHS graduate.
The Hastingses have two children, Jadrian, 3, and Quinlan, who turns 1 on June 8.
Jared is the son of Iolans Mark and Chardel Hastings; FayAnna is the daughter of Brad and Susan Cook. Mark Hastings is the Register’s advertising manager.