Carl Robert ‘Corky’ Redding

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Carl Robert ‘Corky’ Redding

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Corky Redding
Corky Redding

Carl Robert “Corky” Redding passed away on Sept. 3, 2019, just a week after his 96th birthday, with his children at his side. He was born on Aug. 25, 1923, in Billings, the youngest of six children born to Jessie Dell Veley Redding and Harley Tillman Redding. Corky attended schools in Billings and was in the first graduating class of Billings Senior High School in 1941.

He began his lifelong hobby of photography with classes in high school. He also took aviation mechanics in high school. Prior to WWII, he worked at Boeing Aircraft and also held a Civil Service rating of Junior Aircraft Mechanic at the Ogden Air Force depot.

At the beginning of WWII, he enlisted into the Cadet program of the Army Air Corp and eventually became a member of Satan’s Angels 475th Fighter Group, 433rd Squadron. He flew the P-38 Lightning, serving in the South Pacific theater. He even flew some missions with the top three fighter aces of the war:  Maj. Richard Bong, Maj. Thomas McGuire, Col. Charles MacDonald, and also Charles Lindbergh.

Corky’s brother, Stew, was also serving in the Philippines when he witnessed a P-38 crash land. He later learned that Corky was the pilot of that crash. Corky referred to the crash as his “ticket home.” He suffered a broken back and was in traction for months in a military hospital before returning to Billings.

Corky married Margaret Johnson in Billings on Oct. 15, 1955. They had two children, Mark and Shelly. They later divorced but remained friends until her death, and he never remarried.

He worked as a flight instructor for several years. He also worked in sales and parts for Heald Supply and Interstate Distributing. After retirement, he volunteered at Billings Clinic well into his 80s.

Corky was very proud of his military service and loved attending reunions with Mark. He enjoyed reminiscing with all his pilot buddies from the “outfit.” In 2012, Shelly was able to travel with him on the second Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., to experience the National World War II monument.

He spent his final  years at Tender Nest in Billings, where many of his caregivers were like a second family. He was also thankful for the care he received from everyone at Billings Clinic.

Corky was preceded in death by his mother and father, and siblings Frieda Winkelman, Ruth Burke, Edmon Stewart Redding, Geraldine Johnson and Max Allen Redding.

He is survived by his son Mark; daughter Shelly (Kim) Carlson; grandchildren Kimberly (Kyle) Rengel, Bryan Redding, Jeff (Steph) Redding and Jamie Redding; and 11 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of one’s choice.

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4 thoughts on “Carl Robert ‘Corky’ Redding”

  1. Sheryl Witte Winkle

    Corky is an “Ace” of a man in my heart and always will be. He gave me so many cherished memories of growing up and our families were so close we seemed like one. Boating on Cooney Dam, 4th of July’s spent camping in the backyard, Corky’s crazy laugh delighting us all. We begged him to do his laugh when we were kids and I can still hear it today! Much love to his family and know that Corky will live on in many happy and warm memories. I know Corky and Margie and my Mom and Dad are together again laughing and being crazy!

  2. Corky was a great man and loved his family and country. I remember when the children were small we went camping and boating almost every weekend. I loved his stories of when he was young and a pilot . The pictures he has are awesome of him and his planes. He would encourage the kids to waterski and eventually they all did. He loved hamburgers cooked on the grill along with his diced potatoes with onion,butter,and seasoning and made homemade french salad dressing with blue cheese chunks. We loved sitting around the campfire and just visit. Once i volunteered to make bacon in his camper and started a fire! I thought he would be mad but he wasnt at all. He said he was so glad i didnt get hurt. He was a mans man but also had such a sweet side. He was not afraid to speak his mind but was also considerate about it.but you knew where you stood with him. He will be missed ❤

  3. Shelly and I were talking once and she asked me to describe my ‘dream date’. I said someone who was handy at doing projects, fun to be around, and of course, loved the Broncos. She laughed and said ‘That would be my Dad. So from then on I always referred to Corky as my dream date!!

  4. I’ll always remember uncle Corky with a smile on his face & hands in pockets, “jingling coins” & chewing gum. Is that how he acquired his nickname, I wonder? Another memory I have of Corky was that I viewed him as the “RCA man”, while he worked for that company. He would often bring 45 & 78 lp records to us when he visited. When Mark & Shelley were growing up and I was attending Eastern Montana College, I would go to their house to give piano lessons to Mark….not sure Mark was too excited, but Margaret & Corky thought it was important & it gave me a special “connection” to them.

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