Col Hastings is a Bozeman native who graduated from Bozeman Senior High School. Although he was offered a full scholarship for music to Missoula, he turned it down, knowing that the only place he truly wanted to go was Montana State College (now MSU). At the encouragement of his father, Hastings enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1960 at the age of 17. He wanted to be an aviator and knew that the Marine Corps was the connection he needed. Hastings graduated in 1964 with a degree in history, philosophy and English, also earning his officer’s commission and marrying his high school sweetheart in the same year. Subsequently, Hastings attended every level of military school imaginable and earned two masters degree along the way.
After attending the necessary military schools, Hastings moved to Hawaii where he learned to fly the F-8 Crusader, an airplane he “fell in love with.” He then learned to fly the A-4 Skyhawk, which he flew for the majority of his career, including the 168 combat missions he flew in Vietnam. After his tour in Vietnam, Hastings was sent to several places around the world, eventually reaching the rank of colonel. Remarkably, Hastings was the chief of staff for Marine forces during Operation Desert Storm, in 1990-91.